The Aged P

…just toasting and ruminating….

18 July
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Tories Go For PR, UKIP Prefer Principles

We hear from James Kirkup, a resident hack at David Cameron’s fan club newsletter (aka the Telegraph) that the Tory Party machine is now big into “Data Electioneering”. Apparently this is the equivalent of the supermarket loyalty card where you use information gathered at the checkout to decide how you will stock your shelves

 

 It would amass information about voters and seats, information that could be used to ensure that the party knows where the electorate is, what it thinks, what it wants.The result is an extraordinarily extensive – and expensive – programme of opinion polls and focus groups generating huge volumes of data about voters’ views and preferences

 

 In other words the quaintly old fashioned idea of a political party being the coming together of a group of individuals with a common view of political principles and ideas which then seeks to persuade the voters to elect them into government is now so yesterday. Instead you fashion your policies around consumer research, social media reaction and, eventually, product testing. Presumably, after all that, you come up with a to do list which will aim to please mumsnet, greenpeace and the Daily Mail…

Good luck with that.

Of course, it’s all very expensive for the Tories – but when you have the bosses of the big global corporations who do well out of the EU trough and cheap labour via uncontrolled immigration in your pocket then why worry? OK your party membership at local level is collapsing but, like the banks, who needs branches when you can centralise?

Hence the reshuffle, aimed, we are told at

 

women, especially those with young families. Such women, alongside Ukip supporters who used to vote Tory, were a key audience for the reshuffle, both precisely identified by that polling operation for a data-driven reshuffle that is without precedent in British politics.

 

Odd, though, that “UKIP supporters” should be furrowing brows amidst all those data drivers at Tory HQ…..UKIP, a party led by political outsiders, permanently cash strapped with only the bare bones of a professional cadre and with no support from any national media outlet yet which consistently  polls well ahead of the Liberal Democrats. Enough, if it continues, to possibly win a seat or two, certainly enough to undermine the chances of the Tories getting a working majority in 2015.

 

There is little evidence yet of a fall in Ukip support now the European Parliament elections have passed, confounding the expectations of pundits who believed the European election victory was the “peak Ukip moment”. Our estimates have Farage’s party at 14.8 per cent, down just 0.1 per cent on last month. The Liberal Democrats, however, continue to slide to new record lows. This month they register just 8.8 per cent, down 0.5 per cent on last month, and an all-time low under our new methodology.

 

Much ink has been spilt, of course, over a lack of clarity over UKIP’s policies on tax, the NHS etc and, to be fair, some of this criticism has been justified. But then to what extent can people be clear about the policies of the three establishment parties on these issues. However most voters are aware that UKIP wants to withdraw from the EU (not negotiate) and impose stricter controls on immigration – and they say you cannot have one without the other. The three establishment parties claim to be concerned about uncontrolled immigration but don’t really want to leave the EU. They also have hang ups about upsetting the high priests of political correctness in the media. UKIP couldn’t care less about the media, focus groups or pontificating pundits – what you see is what you get and that message has resonated, pitching through all the spin and PR noise of modern politics.

One comment on the Kirkup piece (from Telegraf) encapsulated the vacuity and shallowness of the Tory data obsession “It’s good to know that politics is now simply a marketing campaign involving a brand on an empty box that once used to contain principles.”  But then what can you really expect from a party led by “a onetime PR man for ruthlessly profitable trash TV”

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04 June
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Those Newark By-Election Polls – Are They That Reliable When UKIP Is Involved?

That Ashcroft Newark by election poll has Tory HQ and their media drones at the Telegraph and Spectator ordering extra bottles of champagne.

Purple tide pushed back…..UKIP stuffed……earthquake fails to appear….Brogan & co are dancing with glee….

But are our pollsters  reliable predictors of UKIP by election performance?

UKIP, of course, have never managed to win a Westminster constituency either in a general or a by-election. Their best performance was the 27.8% at Eastleigh in February last year.

It is important to recall that all the polls in that contest, as the chart shows, understated the purples by quite some margin. None of them had UKIP any higher than third place.

It was a similar pattern in Corby in November 2012 when the Tories were trying to hang on to the seat following Louise Mensch’s decision to quit politics. The final Ashcroft poll had UKIP on just 6% – they ended up on 14.3%.

Maybe the Tories should just hold back on those champagne orders until the votes are actually counted……

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01 June
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Tory Candidate In Newark By-Election Is Everything That UKIP Is Fighting Against….

The Tory candidate for the Newark by-election, Robert Jenrick,  appears to embody everything that is wrong with our current political class

 

Robert Jenrick denied being a ‘carpetbagger’ or a ‘career politician’ ,claiming he had ‘has never worked in politics’, despite having stood in Newcastle-Under-Lyme in 2010 and attempting to get selected to a safe Tory seat in Croydon before landing Newark. He stood by his claims that was an ‘entrepreneur’, but admitted to never having set up any business beyond the company he registered while renovating his £2.3 million SW1 property.

Jenrick made much of the fact that he had moved his family to the area, settling in Southwell – although our informants in the Midlands say that Jenrick needs to sharpen up his pronunciation: it’s ‘suthull’ to the local cognoscenti.

 

Do we really want to be continually ruled by people like this?

 

In fact, he and American wife Michal own not one, but two, £2 million homes in London and a £1 million country pile built by an 18th Century slave-trader.

Their Newark ‘home’ is a rented house obtained when he was picked as a candidate six months ago.

And his Party CV omits to say he went to a £13,000-a-year private secondary school.

Together with his director’s job at Christie’s auction house, it is just the type of posh Tory boy image Cameron and co can’t shrug off.

Mr Jenrick, who looks even younger than his 32 years, sticks rigidly to his Tory HQ autocue when asked about national issues.

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03 October
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James Forsyth’s Fantasy – The Tories Have “Solved” The UKIP “Problem”….

The Grand Panjandrum of the Conservative Media, James Forsyth, has officially declared UKIP and Nigel Farage dead and buried.

Tory strategists talk of a ‘carrot and stick’ approach to dealing with the threat of Ukip on their right. The carrot is more robust Tory policies on welfare, immigration and human rights. The stick is the prospect of Ed Miliband as Prime Minister.

Not only have those brilliant “strategists” discovered the magic formula for collapsing the UKIP vote, the venerable figure of Bill Cash came forth and crushed Farage at a fringe meeting with one blow

Farage was harangued by Bill Cash for ‘not acting in the national interest’ and for making it less likely that there would be a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union.

According to Forsyth Farage was then barracked by Tory MPs and had to slink away a broken man. Afterwards Forsyth scuttled up to a “cabinet minister” and described the scene with great glee. Said minister was astonished that the UKIP threat had been neutralised in just a few minutes and probably thanked Forsyth from the bottom of his heart.

Really, Mr Forsyth? Other reports of that Farage/Cash incident paint it in a far less one sided light. He didn’t come as a supplicant, seeking Cash’s blessing and reacted forthrightly to his rather patronising put down.

We know that The Spectator and, to a slightly lesser extent their fellow Barclay Brothers employees at the Telegraph have been peddling this line about UKIP for quite a while. But I suspect this position is not at all based on hard facts. It is either a classic example of wishful thinking or the Forsyth is so enclosed in the Westminster bubble he has little, if any, contact with the real world.

The fact is that Cameron and his clique captured the Conservative machine thinking they could win power by being Tony Blair. It was a disastrous miscalculation.

Rather than locking in the Conservative base and – like Ronald Reagan – building out from there, creating a winning coalition around a couple of big, unifying themes, they rushed to what they thought was the middle, attacked some of their existing voters and activists, and created the space for Ukip’s rise.

However much the Tory “strategists” and their media lapdogs like Forsyth try to big up the shifts and twists of their party’s priorities those who already vote UKIP and the millions more who are moving in that direction are doing so because, if they are not Tories, they have lost faith in the political class, and, if they were they simply do not believe anything Cameron says.

The vote UKIP get Miliband scaremongering so loudly pimped by Forsyth and the “strategists” is an empty threat. Many would argue that, beyond the rhetoric, a Miliband regime would be little different from Cameron/Clegg – EU friendly, High Tax, Corporate Crony and Nanny State. But in opposition the Conservative Party, without the perks of power would collapse like a powdery fossil leaving a resurgent UKIP as the only effective alternative to rule by Big Government.

No, Mr Forsyth, UKIP is here to stay.

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01 October
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Spectator Schoolkids Set Onto UKIP As Per Memo From Tory HQ….Epic Fail…..

The UK Spectator and its Coffee House Blog has always regarded itself as the intellectual power house of the Conservative Party. Of course I don’t mean the Conservative Party in the sense of the grassroots members in the cities and suburbs and market towns who do all the electoral donkey work delivering leaflets across muddy fields or damp council estates.

I mean the pudgy fingered public school lads and lasses who hover around Westminster buttering up Tory MPs and schmoozing with spotty Telegraph hacks hoping to either parachute into a safe seat or gaining a comment spot on the Telegraph….or both.

So, everything you read at the Speccie is viewed through the prism of Westminster gossip and is about as relevant to the politics of real people as the tittle tattle of the Imperial court in Moscow in January 1917

Therefore the Speccie school kids are unable to comprehend the nature of UKIP. They appear not to have had a presence at UKIP’s recent conference and, in general have made no attempt to get out and about the country engaging with the party’s membership.

So we get Isabel Hardman, in a feeble attempt to encapsulate the essence of UKIP digging up an obscure anecdote from a bit of Lib Dem soul searching after they squeaked narrowly past UKIP’s Diane James at Eastleigh

Or Sebastian Payne trying to pimp that relic of failed Maastricht rebellion Bill Cash as the hammer of Farage and producing a hacked e mail from the UKIP Press office as a mortal blow to the party’s credibility.

Then, finally, the genius Payne uncovers William “Syria” Hague’s Master Plan to pulverise UKIP into granules of dust

  • Remind every voter that Cameron has offered a referendum on a renegotiated EU Treaty
  • A vote for UKIP will let in Labour
  • Errrmmm..that’s it, folks

….and they get paid for this????

The best riposte?

Who will listen to Hague? Honestly he is a man who has swallowed all his own beliefs for ‘power’ and control by the EU, Foreign Office and the USA. Yet another man who broke his promise on the EU to the people. 
Vote Conservative get broken promises and no in/out referendum. Just a ‘Do you agree with the changes we have made within the EU!! Mark my words.

Amen to that, my friend.

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24 September
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Dodgy Deal: “Ukip Supporters Should Vote For The Tory Liars, Otherwise The Labour Liars Will Get In”

A vote for ukip will let Labour in says Alex Wickham.

It’s a mantra that we shall be hearing more and more over the months leading up to the next general election.  It usually begins with a statement that the author is sympathetic to much of what ukip stands for and, yes, for a long time Cameron and Co were badmouthing its members but Dave has seen the error of his ways and is now firmly committed to a referendum and immigration reform and will be “watching like a hawk…etc..etc…blah blah”

So now is not the time to be rocking the boat by putting ukip candidates in every seat (especially the marginals) and thus decanting a measure of the Tory vote and letting Labour in.

However, leaving aside the obvious issues (not all the ukip vote comes from former Tory voters / on many issues the views of Cameron and Miliband are interchangeable) there is one major flaw in the Wickham argument.

If it is assumed by many conservative politicians and pundits that a substantial proportion of Tory voters are willing to “desert” to ukip at the ballot box isn’t it a sign that Cameron’s party has alienated a significant element of their core support?  Shouldn’t Wickham and his friends be asking themselves why this has happened AND WHAT THE TORY PARTY SHOULD DO ABOUT IT?

In other words it is a problem for the Tories, not for ukip

While Cameron and his clique are in charge the Tory Party will be exactly like those abusive husbands who regularly beat their wives black and blue then sob uncontrollably and promise to reform when the wife threatens to leave.

For a few days they appear to be thoughtful and caring – then their fists come into action again.

Wickham’s cri de coeur is pure, unadulterated moral blackmail. It’s the eternal siren song of the dodgy salesman. Only a fool would buy into it and, this time, many Tory voters will say they have been fooled once too often….

salesman

 

Pic h/t

 

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23 January
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Never Expected To Say This But Cameron’s EU Speech Was Absolutely Spot On….

There is a time in politics as well as in all things when one must eat one’s words (or some of them) and give credit where it is due. David Cameron’s speech was a good one, carefully crafted to bring out some home truths without sneering at our European partners as a bunch of Johnny Foreigners smelling of garlic and trying to seduce our women and steal our silver. By offering a straightforward in/out referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU in 2017 on the basis of a negotiated repatriation of certain powers he made a bold, and honest, commitment. There are none of the familiar weasel word which politicians conventionally use when making public promises – “almost certainly”, “certain circumstances”, subject to these conditions”.

There are always voices saying “don’t ask the difficult questions.”
But it’s essential for Europe – and for Britain – that we do because there are three major challenges confronting us today.
First, the problems in the Eurozone are driving fundamental change in Europe.
Second, there is a crisis of European competitiveness, as other nations across the world soar ahead. And third, there is a gap between the EU and its citizens which has grown dramatically in recent years. And which represents a lack of democratic accountability and consent that is – yes – felt particularly acutely in Britain.

For once it was Cameron as Thatcher, not Cameron as Blair.

It‘s a canny move. It might well have for the moment shot the UKIP fox, which had been threatening to bite at Tory heels – though I suspect that puttting a bet on predicting Nigel Farage’s political demise would not be the wisest of moves.Indeed one could argue that Cameron’s offer has been forced on him by the impact of Farage And UKIP. However Dave has left Labour in complete disarray. As for the Liberal Democrats, who in 2007 were supporting a referendum, they are busily backpedalling, calling the idea unhelpful.

This must be sweet music to Tory ears – those champions of the “people” Clegg and Milliband boxing themselves into a corner and saying actually we, the great and the good, not the public, should decide these matters.

The fact that political has beens like Mandelson, Clarke and Heseltine are against a referendum is clearly a badge of honour considering that all three were once fervent advocates of joining the Euro. Add the French and President Obama to the mix and it must be drinks all round.

The only voice that matters in all this is the one that emanates from Berlin and Cameron must be pleased that Angela Merkel is not going negative on the idea of having a second look at the power relationship between the EU and member states.

Maybe, just maybe, Dave might have a bit of backbone after all……

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27 October
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Shock News…Working Class Voters Less Left Wing Than Guardian Readers!!!!!!

The bastion of the left at the UK Guardian appears totally nonplussed at the result of a poll which discovers that working class voters are not particularly enamoured of those policies so much favoured by the chattering classes at their North London dinner parties – uncontrolled immigration and massive transfers of taxpayers money into overseas aid.

Could that possibly be because it is the working class areas of the big cities and small market towns that that find their schools, social services and social housing overwhelmed by the influx of immigrants and never the comfortable middle class suburbs or cosy commuter villages wherein dwell the self perpetuating political, media and academic elite? An elite which constantly lauds the glories of “cultural diversity” and “community integration” while maintaining a convenient distance from the realities of their guilt induced dreamworld.

One reason why the left elite hated Enoch Powell and Margaret Thatcher so much is that they connected with vast swathes of working class opinion and were not afraid of courting the disdain of that elite – unlike the current Tory leadership which deliberately jettisoned that legacy and paid the price with their failure to win unadulterated power in 2010.

Until the Tories have the courage to cease yearning for the approval of the BBC/Guardian chattering classes they might find themselves withering on the political vine and possibly being edged out by alternatives – UKIP, anyone?

The times they are a changing…..

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05 October
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18 September
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Time To Remove Some Of The Snouts From The Taxpayer Funded Foreign Aid Trough?

While he was leader of the opposition David Cameron promised that once in power a Conservative government would introduce a law pledging that 0.7% of all government spending would go each year to foreign aid. He also promised a referendum on membership of the EU. That one slipped quickly down the memory hole once he entered number 10 – but the foreign aid commitment remained solid. It hasn’t yet been passed into law but, alongside the NHS, the Department for International Development’s budget remained ring fenced while everything else was being sliced.

It really sums up the essence of Cameron and his friends in the metropolitan cabal who took over the party once he was elected. At heart, though they profess Tory “values”, they yearn for the approval of the UK’s cultural elite whose house magazine is The Guardian and whose chuch is the BBC.

Foreign aid paid for out of our taxes has never been particularly popular with most people. Private donations, however, have always been a different matter. Over the last few decades foreign aid charities like Oxfam & Save The Children have benefited enormously from the generosity of private individuals. As a result such institutions have experienced massive growth until we are now faced with a foreign aid industry handling billions of pounds and employing tens of thousands of people on an increasingly professional basis – and like any other industry they have an interest in constant expansion.

That was fine until, like everyone else, the charity industry was hit by the recession. Oxfam and company were now having to compete in a shrinking market. Thousands of managers and executives who were earning +50k salaries became very nervous and saw the Cameron commitment as their lifeline. Which is why they will be spinning furiously in the face of current concerns about the amount of taxpayers money being pumped into foreign aid and, much closer to the nerve, serious questioning of the raison d’etre for foreign aid in the first place.

After years of being Teflon the whole purpose of foreign aid is coming under the microscope – the six figure salaries, the grandiose offices, the bonuses and perks and, above all, the industry’s efficiency and effectiveness.

Far from helping the poorest, he said, ‘aid corrodes civil society and encourages corruption and conflict’ in poor countries. He added: ‘While we fund schools and hospitals, rulers can steal from state coffers or spend huge sums on arms, then win elections using bribery, coercion or violence.’
Developing countries wanted ‘tourism and trade, not dollops of aid’, he said, urging Miss Greening to scrap the ‘neo-colonial’ approach to the world.
He said: ‘You cannot build democracy on other people’s money … By doling out vast sums to often dubious foreign regimes, we ensure they have less need to respond to their citizens’ needs.

And with all that money being hosed into the trough there are plenty of snouts getting stuck in and greedy for more

With the huge aid monies swirling around, all those involved — politicians, consultants, charities, think-tanks, even many journalists — have a shared interest in hiding uncomfortable facts. As budgets have soared in recent years, the stakes have become higher. And the relationships between those feeding off the boom is looking increasingly tawdry.
This weekend it emerged that ‘poverty barons’ are making millions in consultancy fees, with half a billion pounds paid to consultants. Instead of alleviating poverty in the most hard-pressed corners of the world, money from British taxpayers is ending up in the pockets of fat cats paying themselves six-figure salaries and seven-figure bonuses

We know that the new minister, Justine Greening, saw her move from Transport to DfID as a demotion. We also know she is able and combative (she trod on quite a few bureaucratic toes at Transport) and not over keen on dishing out freebies to foreigners. Let us hope that she casts her accountant’s eye line by line over those DfID books – and spearheads a reassessment of the whole nature of DfID.

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