Wednesday, 25 February 2015

SNP want to force Universities to widen access

The SNP today announced that it intends to widen access to Universities by forcing Universities to accept more students from poorer backgrounds.  This seems like another badly thought through publicity stunt from the SNP, there policies are based on good intentions but they don’t always have the means to implement them.  An example of this is the SNP’s plan to double spending on childcare despite not being clear where the money is coming from.

Moving back to the original issue of the SNP forcing universities to accept students from poor backgrounds, and sound like they may potentially introduce a dreaded quota.  This is flawed policy for several reasons, under Scotland’s policy of free tuition the number of Scottish students being allowed into university is capped.  The SNP has not said it would raise this cap, so middle class students with better grades look like they might have to study somewhere in the name of wider access.  This policy also ignores the reasons why students from poorer backgrounds fail to get into university, and that is largely down to grades and the reason for the poor grades is poor schools.  Rather than fixing the underline problem Nicola Sturgeon has instead chosen to ignore it despite there being a clear problem.  3.9% of students from Scotland’s poorest areas managed to get 3 A’s in their higher exams compared to 24% of students in wealthier areas.  Rather than raising the standard of schools in Scotland’s most deprived areas the SNP has instead chosen to just lower the standard of Scotland’s universities which already suffer a funding gap due the Scotland having no tuition fees for Scottish or EU students.

This is a loony left policy that promotes unfairness and tries to solve a real problem by lowering standards rather than fixing the problem. This is the sort off policy that makes people use the saying race to the bottom.  It is a policy that sounds nice but if you look at it a little bit you see that it is a seriously unfair policy and a seriously bad policy and it is a policy the SNP need to fix or drop.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Have New Unemployment Figures Put Labour In Check?

New figures out today show the unemployment rate is now 5.7% this is the lowest levels of unemployment since 2008.  There was more pleasant reading for the government as wages have also risen by 1.7% (2.1% including bonuses), taking into account the rate of inflation in January (0.3%) this is a real wage rise of 1.4%.  This looks like it may take the edge off Labours cost of living crisis argument but that really depends on if people are truly feeling the economic recovery.

There are obvious reasons for thinking these new statistics are bad for Labour, its shows the government’s economic plan is working. It furthers the question do you really want to risk the recovery under Labour?  But it would be unrealistic to say that Labour are big losers from this news, their economic plan does not look nearly as bad in a growing economy in fact some parts of it look rather plausible such as more investment in health and education.   Also these figures don’t paint the whole picture, yes wages are growing now but they have been either stagnant or falling for the past 5 years, and Labour has not failed to pick up on this.  Labours Shadow Employment minister has pointed out that over the past 5 years the average person has been worse off by £1,600 a year.

It is to early to say what effect these latest figures will have on peoples voting intentions.  Some may see the figures as a sign that the government’s economic policies are paying off and that we should stick with them.  But many people will say that this is too little, although our economy is growing at the fastest rate in the EU many people have not felt the recovery and they are unlikely to vote Conservative. How these figures effect the election is down to how the parties will spin these statistics, just because is seems like good news for the government does not mean that it has to be bad news for Labour.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Why people should avoid voting Labour

Ed Miliband and Ed Balls used to be Gordon Browns favoured sons, they were behind the crushing political machine of Gordon Brown back when he was Chancellor.  But now they are satirised daily in the press and they can’t seem to run the Labour party never mind the country.  But why is their reputation so bad and why should the Labour party not be allowed back into Number 10 in May? I will try to explain that in the next few paragraphs.

Labour has gone backwards in the past five years, they have gone from a credible party of government to a party that can’t seem to face up to economic reality.  And this is the first reason not to vote for Labour, they claim they want to balance the budget but at the same time I can’t find a single thing they intend to cut.  On the Labour website they say they actually want to undo Conservative cuts.  They do however want to raise taxes, including the 50p tax, which makes little sense as the tax was shown to have little benefit and bringing it back could harm the economic recovery. And they also want to introduce a mansion tax, which shows how out of touch they are as every other political party has rejected this idea. Labour however seems completely unaware that this is a policy that attacks aspiration it is the sort of policy that the 1980’s Labour party would support. These two policies show the dividing line Labour is trying to create, the Conservatives protect the rich and Labour won’t. However they are failing to realise the massive tax cut the coalition has given the working poor by raising the tax threshold to £10,000.  This Labour party seems economically to be more about hammering business and the rich that trying to get the economy back on track, the 50p tax is a prime example of this it is a show tax that only risks hurting the economy.

Labour has more policies that are ignorant of the economic reality, including the living wage.  The living wage is a nice idea but has several flaws, a living wage will damage the job prospects of young and unskilled workers, as it makes these people more expensive to employ meaning companies will employ less unskilled and young workers.  Basic economic theory can explain the negative effect a living wage can have on an unskilled worker.  Following on from this if it is harder for unskilled workers to get a job the unemployment rate will rise again just as jobs are starting to appear again. Another policy that shows that Labour can’t be trusted with the economy is their pledge to freeze energy prices, firstly it is worth pointed out that Labour created the big 6 energy companies.  Secondly the way to lower energy prices is to help create competition in the energy market not freeze prices, this just leads to a large price rise before the freeze and a large price rise after the freeze.

Labour keeps promising spending and when they are asked how they will fund it they say a tax on banker bonuses or a mansion tax.  They expect to be able to spend to improve schools, increase NHS spending, 25 hours of free childcare and build an extra 200,000 houses. The only thing Labour will do with these policies is increase the deficit.  Labour is also attacking the spare room subsidy which they created in the private sector and the Conservatives just expanded to the public sector but now they call it a bedroom tax it’s not even a tax. The bedroom tax is a prime example of Labour scare tactics, they rebrand Conservative policies and give them frightening names or motives, another example is when they say the Conservatives are trying to privatise the NHS this is complete and utter nonsense.  

Labour don’t seem to offer anything that looks credible for dealing with the deficit, they seem to want to restore everything to how it was before 2010, but they are choosing to ignore economic reality.  They are relying purely on scare tactics due to their lack of credible policies.  That’s why they ignored the reality of tuition fees, that is why they spread a lie about the privatisation of the NHS, and that is why they brand the spare room subsidy a bedroom tax. The reason you should not vote for Labour is a simple one they are all scare tactics and slogans and lack any policies that can balance the budget.

Friday, 29 August 2014

Independence will not solve Scotland’s problems

Independence will not solve Scotland’s problems

It has been difficult over the past few weeks to ignore the Scottish referendum debate, turn on the TV or pick up a newspaper and you will see it.  The question of should Scotland be an independent country? Has been everywhere, the problem with the question of independence, is what an independent Scotland would be like is not set in stone. Voters have the option of voting to stay in a political and economic union that they know but may not necessarily like or voting for an independent Scotland which still has a great number of unknowns such as will it be in the EU or which currency will it use.

The Yes Scotland campaign has blamed Westminster for all Scotland’s problems and claims that Scotland would thrive as an independent nation, while the No campaign has tried to use the uncertainty about what an independent Scotland would look like to spread fear over Scotland’s potential economic strength.  However it is fair to say both sides are exaggerating their points, Scotland would not collapse if it became independent although it may have a few tough years to start with.  And the Yes campaigns claims that Scotland would be a fairer country are also not defiantly true and this is largely down to an independent Scotland’s currency plan.

It is fair to say Scottish politics is more left wing than English politics, you only have to look at the number of Tory MPs in the two countries.  However those voting yes hoping for radical politics and economics in an independent Scotland will be massively disappointed if Alex Salmond’s plans to keep the pound with or without a currency union are implemented.  There is an old saying in British politics, no matter who is in government the treasury runs the country, and this is basically true whoever controls a country’s economic policy has control over the country.  If Scotland keeps the pound Number 11 Downing Street will still have a large portion of control over economic policy in Scotland.  As the Chancellor of the Exchequer along with the Governor of the Bank of England will set interest rate, control the printing of money, set the target inflation rate and have a large degree of control over exchange rates.  All these things are hugely important to a country’s economy and not trivial issues, under Alex Salmond’s current plan an independent Scotland would sacrifice control of all these powers to the Bank of England and Number 11.  This will make it nearly impossible for Scotland to pursue a left wing economic agenda and it will also mean that the Tories will still have power in Scotland.

To conclude although Scotland could still be a successful independent country it will sacrifice many important economic powers to a foreign country if it implements Alex Salmond’s currency plans.  This will mean that Scotland will struggle to implement a left wing economic policy to solve its inequality problems because it will not be able to set the correct economic conditions to pursue a radical form of economics.  Many Yes voters want a more equal society, but with the current currency plans they are not going to get it.  An independent Scotland needs its own currency for many voters’ vision of an independent Scotland to be realised.  However, this would have its own set of problems such as high prices for imported goods, but if Scotland truly wants to be in charge of its own destiny an independent Scotland would need its own currency.  

Friday, 30 May 2014

Euro Elections, the fallout.

Euro Elections, the fallout.

This last round of European and local elections has seen only one big winner and that is UKIP, the controversial party made huge strides locally and managed to win in the European elections.  As much as Labour may try to claim they were also winners in the latest elections most Labour people know they are not doing well enough at the moment and are worried about another term in opposition.  Despite UKIP making large gains the Conservatives did not experience the expected collapse in the local or Euro elections that David Cameron must have feared.  In fact the Tories will end this parliament with more local councillors than any other party a feat that has not been achieved by any other governing party. Of the three main parties the Lib Dems were the party that was hurt most in the latest round of elections.  Although they made some gains in the local elections on the whole they lost a substantial number of seats, and in the Euro elections they finished sixth behind the SNP and the Greens with only one seat.

The biggest story to come out of the European elections was UKIP’s victory, although is was widely expected it has still given the three main parties a bloody nose and left them to wonder what impact UKIP may have in 2015.  The UK was not the only major European nation that backed a eurosceptic party, the Front National managed to win a historic victory in France and although UKIP won’t work with them they will defiantly want to imitate there domestic presence here in the UK come 2015.  Unlike UKIP the Lib Dems had a horrendous night and saw their number of seats in the European Parliament drop from 11 to just 1.  This result has caused serious turmoil in the party with Lord Oakeshott commissioning polling in an apparent bid to remove Nick Clegg as party leader and install Vince Cable in his place.  The Euro elections have shown the Lib Dems just how far they have fallen since 2010 and there are serious concerns that the party will be obliterated in the next election.

To conclude I want to look at a and positive voting trend for Labour.  The Conservatives remain neck and neck with Labour however one interesting point to note is that Ed Miliband’s strategy of stealing former Lib Dem voters seemed to work.  In numerous seats Labour’s vote rose by just over the amount the Lib Dem’s vote fell and Labour strategists believe this plan should get Ed Miliband into Number 10 come 2015.  So although Labour don’t seem to have the opinion poll leads they need to win come the general election their strategy of targeting the third parties voters rather than the oppositions voters could upset historical trends and shock pundits and the Conservatives.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Why Labour Are Leaking Votes?

Why Labour Are Leaking Votes?

Yesterday’s Opinium/Observer poll made unpleasant reading for Labour, as their lead over the Conservatives has slipped to only 1 point.  This is down from a 10 point lead after George Osborne’s infamous "omnishambles" budget, how have Labour managed to lose such a substantial lead against a coalition that is making tough and unpopular decisions every day? The answer is obvious to most people, Labour has a leadership problem.

The only thing worse than a divided party is an indecisive one.  A party that is indecisive is a party that is not yet ready to govern and voters can sense this, and Labour are both indecisive and divided.  They are a little like a rudderless boat, 2015 is an election Labour should win everything is in their favour, living standards are down from 2010, many people are not yet feeling the advantages of the economic recovery and the cost of living keeps on rising.  Yet for Labour can’t take advantage of these factors and that is down to one man, Ed Miliband.  Ed seems torn on what to do over the Economy, should he make cuts or not make cuts and this is making him look weak.  After a long period of opposing Tory cuts the Labour party now seems to accept that cuts are necessary, but after such a long period of opposition to government cuts particularly from Ed Balls people are now unsure what Labour’s economic plan actually is.  This is only made worse by backbench MPs not going along with Miliband’s plan to cut government spending in a fairer way.

Miliband is not at the mercy of his party, there is still plenty he can do and he is probably about to do it.  Firstly he needs to start making his party’s positions on key issues like Europe and the Economy clear, and then he needs the right people in the Shadow Cabinet the big name that comes to mind is Alistair Darling.  As the Chancellor who guided the country through the financial crash he is a serious heavyweight and what he says about the Economy has clout, if Labour intends to make spending cuts if they get into office Alistair Darling is the man to present the cuts.  He intended to make cuts after 2010 which makes him a more credible Shadow Chancellor than Ed Balls who has spent most his time moaning about Tory cuts without offering any clear alternative.  If Labour want to restore their lead in the polls and win in 2015 they need to start being clear on what they intend to do in office and get the right people in the right Shadow cabinet jobs.  But at the moment Ed Miliband may manage to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. 

Saturday, 29 March 2014

How to solve a problem like Nigel Farage?

How to solve a problem like Nigel Farage?

Nigel Farage is currently the golden boy of British politics, it is impossible to pick up a paper or turn on the news without seeing Nigel Farage.  And since his debating victory against Nick Clegg he has only become more popular, it is fair to say Nigel Farage is defiantly helping UKIP in the polls. He has a natural affinity with working people and those who feel the political class ignores them, but for some reason rather than taking a page from his book the main party leaders take swipes at the UKIP leader every time they get a chance and so far all this has led to is the increasing popularity of UKIP and Nigel Farage.

UKIP have hit a rich seam of British anger and it is not just over Europe it is the general high handedness of the political class.  People are fed up of spin, fed up of the party line and fed up of they did this they did that politics.   Both Labour and the Conservatives need to look at how UKIP is playing politics and start doing something similar, UKIP does not have a big media machine like the main parties but its popularity still is rising.  And the rise of UKIP actually confirms what many people believe about the political class today, UKIP were ignored then they got more popular and they were ridiculed by the main parties but still they got more and more popular. This show what people think about the main parties, your either too small to matter and when your opinion gains some traction if it does not fit the political centre ground the main parties try to discredit it, as the last Labour government did on immigration.  UKIP keeps getting more popular because it is not a main Westminster party, they are an old style political party, they are not all polished and shiny but rough and ready, Farage goes to pubs and drinks British beer, he sounds and looks like a man who would stick up for Britain.  While David Cameron seems to be largely hot air when it comes to dealing with Europe and Ed Miliband is struggling to lead his own party never mind the country
But how do the main parties get some of UKIP’s success?  I think it’s simple, they need to listen to Nigel, he is in touch with the politically disenchanted and those who vote but who are sick of both Labour and the Conservatives.  It is not hard to see what these voters want they want to be taxed less they want to be able to afford a beer in the pub and they want a job.  These are all things the Conservatives should be doing anyway, it is not the market that is causing prices of beer to rocket it is tax and policies such as a 1p cut to beer duty actually means nothing in practice.  The main parties have to acknowledge that immigration can be bad for some groups in society and do something to protect these people from immigrations more damaging effects.  Such as enforcing the minimum wage, and as other European countries do removing people if they come here and don’t work for a long period of time.  Set up proper apprentice schemes like Germany has and give people the hope of a career if they go into more practical education.   

UKIP is just offering people what they have been moaning about for a long time now, and the only reason they are not more popular is that they are new and are seen as a little unsafe, a little sexist and a little racist.  The Conservatives and Labour should be using this perception not to attack UKIP but to take some of their more popular policies and watch voters start to reconsider voting UKIP.  However this may already be too late, the main parties have spent to long attacking UKIP and failing to listen to them, yes the Conservatives are offering a referendum on Europe but there is now more to UKIP than just Europe.  If UKIP continues to be ignored then they could be a force that’s here to stay and in the long run that should give Labour sleepless nights rather than the Conservatives.