UK election spending

January 29th, 2016 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

UK spending

The data comes from here.

UKIP did the best for votes per pound spent and the Lib Dems the worst. Conservatives and Labour fairly close to each other.

In terms of spending per seats won the SNP did best by far followed by Conservatives and Labour. UKIP did the worse.

Osborne slashes welfare, hikes minimum wage

July 11th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Guardian reports:

George Osborne sought to outflank Labour and soften the blow from a £12bn cut to Britain’s welfare bill when he made a big rise in the minimum wage the centrepiece of the first Conservative budget in almost two decades.

In a move that went further than Labour was planning at the general election, the chancellor said employers would be forced to pay staff a minimum of £7.20 an hour from next April and raise wages by 6% a year on average to around £9 an hour by the end of the parliament.

Relishing the freedom to deliver his latest budget unfettered by coalition, the chancellor eased up on the pace of deficit reduction and reduced the size of the cuts that Whitehall departments will face in the coming years.

On the assumption that the economy grows steadily at around 2.5% a year, the Treasury is now expecting a £10bn surplus in the final year of the parliament – a sizeable war chest for the 2020 election.

So looks like it will take them five years longer than NZ to make surplus.

Declaring “Britain needs a pay rise” – once the campaign slogan of the TUC – Osborne said he was directly boosting the national minimum wage of 2.7 million workers aged over 25. The increase, accompanied by substantial welfare cuts over three years, was designed to engineer a rebalancing between the individual and the state – a political intervention to shift responsibility for low incomes from the state to employers.

“Let me be clear: Britain deserves a pay rise and Britain is getting a pay rise,” Osborne said, adding that 6 million people would see their pay increase as a result of what he dubbed the creation of a national living wage.

A fair few will lose their jobs also.

Osborne had considered a rise in the minimum wage in 2013 but could not win the support of the Liberal Democrats for the welfare cuts, or a further cut in corporation tax, an essential part of Wednesday’s package designed to ease employers’ resistance to the reforms.

But despite being given the sweetener of a cut in corporation tax from 20% to 18% by 2020, the CBI said the increases would prove “challenging” for its members working in the hospitality and retail sector.

If you’re going to have a big hike in the minimum wage, then a cut in company tax to compensate is sensible.

The big cuts to welfare come from:

  • freezing working age benefits and tax credits for four years as opposed to the two set out ahead of the election.

  • limiting the child element of tax credits to the first two children for new claimants. At present nearly 850,000 tax credit recipients have more than two children.

  • reducing the income thresholds in tax credits from £6,420 to £3,850 and work allowances in Universal Credit

In NZ, we increased benefit levels!

I like the limit of tax credits to the first two children for new claimants. If you want more than two kids,you should be able to fund them yourselves.

An English Parliament?

July 5th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

No Right Turn blogs:

The UK has developed a distressing habit of making significant constitutional changes for partisan political reasons. Last term it was the Tories’ attempt to equalise the size of electorates – a move which would have improved their electoral system but was driven purely by an effort to shaft the Labour party. That was defeated – the LibDems decided it wasn’t in their partisan political interest for UKanians to have an equal voice in Parliament

Parties tend to promote electoral change that benefits them – hence Labour wanting to get rid of the one seat threshold in Parliament now, but not when it helped them (and National not wanting to).

Hence the best way to assess change is not on whether it benefits the part promoting it (fine to point out their motives) but whether it makes things fairer.

The current UK boundaries are effectively gerrymandered – they are vastly different sizes, so some seats have far more electors than others.

The UK boundaries should be like the NZ boundaries – required to be the same size within a small tolerance.

this term we have “English Votes for English Laws” aka “preventing Scottish MPs from voting on things”.

As with equal sized electorates, there’s a reasonable argument underlying it: the UK has devolved a lot of policy to the Scottish Parliament, so why should Scottish MPs be allowed to vote on matters which only affect England?

The simple answer is they shouldn’t. Scotland can’t have it both ways with only Scottish MPs deciding matters on the Scottish NHS yet Scottish MPs also voting on the English NHS.

But the real driver is the desire of the Conservative party – which dominates in England – to lock Labour out of power forever, combined with some pretty toxic English supremacism. Because what EVEL actually means is that in order to govern in practice – that is, enact its policies – a party would not to win not only the confidence of parliament as a whole, but also of English members – basically, an “English veto” on government, forever. England uber alles!

Not really. If a Government had a majority of all MPs, but not a majority of English MPs, they could still pass their Budget, run all the ministries, and pass laws relating to the UK as a whole. They would only not be able to pass laws (without gaining votes from the opposition) that relate to England only. And that is as it should be.

The core problem here is that, for historical reasons, Westminster effectively does double duty as both the UK and English Parliament. But the solution to this isn’t self-serving changes to standing orders to diminish the role of Scottish MPs and make it clear that they are a subject people, but a fully devolved English Parliament with powers equal to the Scottish one.

Here I agree – this is the logical solution. Have a federal system with four devolved Parliaments, and a UK Parliament (and Government).

As for the solution, the SNP is threatening a legal challenge, which will of course fail due to Parliamentary Privilege. Which leaves them with the other option: walk. If the Tories want England, let them have it. At least Scotland can be free.

Many (not most) Tories would like Scotland to walk.

What happens when the UK boundaries change

May 30th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The current UK boundaries are not fair, with some electorates being much larger than others in terms of population. The electors per seat are:

  • Wales 57,057
  • Northern Ireland 68,704
  • Scotland 68,403
  • England 72,814

The Conservatives have a bill to get rid of what is effectively a gerrymander and also reduce the House of Commons from 650 to 600 MPs.

Electoral Calculus has projected what the 2015 results would have been without the gerrymander, and with only 600 seats. It would be:

  • Conservatives 325 (-6)
  • Labour 202 (-26)
  • Lib Dems 5 (-3)
  • SNP 49 (-7)
  • Plaid Cymru 3
  • Northern Ireland 16 (-2)
  • Conservative Majority 50 (+38)

This is quite significant. It will significantly help their re-election chances in 2020, if they get rid of the unequal seat sizes.  They go from a majority of 12 to a paper majority of 50.

Westminster now most gay Parliament in the world

May 27th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Guardian reports:

Now Britain finds itself with the queerest legislature in the world: 32 of the United Kingdom’s 650 MPs calling themselves gay, lesbian or bisexual. At 4.9%, this pretty closely reflects what researchers believe to be the sexuality of the population as a whole: an impressive achievement, still to be matched in matters of gender or ethnicity.

The good thing about the representation now being approximately proportional, is that it shouldn’t be such a big thing in future. Having a representative Parliament shouldn’t be a big thing.

So who are the LGB MPs (the T, for transgender, is still missing, none of the four candidates who stood this election won their seat)? Twelve are Conservative, 13 Labour, the rest Scottish Nationalists.

So 3.6% of Conservative MPs are gay, 5.6% of Labour MPs and 12.5% of SNP MPs. Looks like the SNP needs a quota for heterosexual MPs!

Messina on why Labour lost

May 25th, 2015 at 8:30 am by David Farrar

Jim Messina was Obama’s 2012 campaign manager and also a campaign adviser to David Cameron. He writes on why Labour lost:

Was it Messina’s data-focused approach that won the day, or was it down to the personality of David Cameron vs. Ed Miliband? ‘All elections are always about the candidates and we had the better leader,’ he says. ‘We had a leader with a clear agenda who had taken very difficult steps and the economy was benefiting from that.’

But Messina does not have many positive things to say about Labour’s messaging either. ‘To this day I can’t tell you what Labour’s message was other than I guess we don’t like the Tories. But until the famous Ed Rock or Ed Stone, you sort of had no idea what they were running on and when you are trying to do that five days before, you’re in deep, deep trouble.’

The research conducted by Crosby backed up his polling on the Tories’ message of economic stability. ‘CTF were saying it and then people on the doors were hearing it is that people believed that Cameron had taken tough steps, things were starting to get better and that Miliband wasn’t offering anything new and that combination made it very, very difficult for them to win.’

NZ Labour’s message seems also to be mainly we don’t like National, and no new policies.

Could he seem himself returning to Conservative HQ in future? ‘I would love to, I really believe in Prime Minister Cameron and I adore his team, I think Andrew Feldman and Lynton, those guys are all some of the better people I have worked with so it would be an honour to work with them again.’

What about working for say Boris Johnson, if he is leading the Tories in 2020? ‘Well we’re only three days after the last one! I think I’m going to go to sleep for a couple of weeks.’

Interesting that a Democrat would work the Conservatives. I understand it was mainly because of his admiration for David Cameron.

Lord Ashcroft analyses the UK election result

May 23rd, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Two interesting blog posts of Lord Ashcroft – the results of his post-election poll and a speech he gave to a post-election conference.

Some data from the poll:

  • Conservatives lost among under 55s, and won massively with over 65s. Labour got just 21% of over 65s.
  • Conservatives won in socio-economic classes AB and C1, tied in C2 and lost only in DE.
  • The most important factors in how people voted were trust of motives and values 75%, preferred promises 62%, the leader 45%
  • Most important issues were the NHS 55%, economic growth 51%, immigration 41%, cutting deficit 30%, cost of living 25%, welfare reform 20%, Europe 18%, schools 13%, environment 9%, crime 6%
  • 46% say austerity needs to continue, 30% say austerity was needed but no longer and 24% say austerity was never needed
  • Even 60% of Labour voters say austerity and spending cuts were needed


Backgrounds of UK MPs

May 17th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Smith Institute has done a profile of the 650 MPs just elected to Westminster.  Some interesting facts:

  • 25% of the MPs are new
  • The average ages are SNP 44, Conservatives 50, Lib Dems 51 and Labour 53
  • 29% of MPs are female, up from 22% last time
  • 33% of MPs went to a private school and 23% went to Oxford or Cambridge
  • Only 22% of MPs have a business background
  • 7% of Conservative MPs were in the Armed Force (0% for all other parties)
  • 15% of Labour MPs were professional unionists
  • 25% of MPs main background is in politics (29% of Labour MPs, 19% of Conservative MPs and 35% of SNP MPs)

The last one is the most disturbing. It isn’t a bad thing to have a few MPs whose main background has been in politics, but you don’t want a quarter of Parliament made up of professional politicians who have never held a job outside politics.


The hunt for the Ed Stone

May 15th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Guardian reports:

Ed Miliband is licking his wounds in Ibiza but his much maligned “Ed Stone” has suffered a less glamorous exit from the spotlight and is languishing in a south London garage, the Guardian has learned.

The 2.6 metre-high, two-ton stone was unveiled with great fanfare in the marginal seat of Hastings, and featured Labour’s six key election promises. It was intended as a symbol of how Miliband would restore trust in politics.

It was the one of the biggest PR stunt backfires I’ve seen. Partly because it was so ridiculous the insistence this would be placed in the garden at Downing Street, but also because the six pledges are meaningless waffle. A pledge card can work, but only if they have a fair degree of specificity.

With Labour defeated, and the stone’s promises summarily rejected, newspapers were offering rewards including a case of champagne in return for news of the tablet’s whereabouts.

The Guardian understands that the party has ensured the limestone hulk is kept under lock and key, to avoid any discovery which might cause further embarrassment.

The Daily Mail won’t rest until it finds it!

Winners and losers from the UK election

May 10th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar


  • David Cameron. Got a majority against all expectations. Had been constantly criticised for not getting a majority in 2010, but has laid that to rest, and will be a conquering hero to his party. Set to be Prime Minister for at least nine years.
  • David Miliband. May now seek to return to Parliament to seek the leadership, in line with the constant claim that the wrong Miliband won. He only lost because the unions backed Ed over him.
  • Nicola Sturgeon and Alec Salmond – the SNP now dominate Scotland. And having the Conservatives remain in Goverment probably helps them, as they can blame them for everything.
  • Mhairi Black – the youngest MP (age 20) since 19 year old Charles Fox in 1768 had his father but him a seat.
  • Boris Johnson – back in Parliament and if he doesn’t offend more than half a dozen foreign countries, or sleep with more than half a dozen women, could become the next Conservative Leader and Prime Minister. Or resign in scandal.
  • Lynton Crosby and Mark Textor – their legend grows


  • Ed Miliband. Had a generally good campaign and was favoured to become PM on election night, but within hours he had led Labour to its worst result since 1987, and inevitably is now out of the leadership.
  • Ed Balls. Went from on the verge of being the Chancellor, to out of Parliament
  • Jim Murphy- led Labour in Scotland to a defeat so bad that the meme is Scotland now has more Pandas (2) than Labour MPs (1)
  • Vince Cable, Simon Hughes, Danny Alexander, Ed Davey – Lib Dem Ministers who all lost their seats
  • Nick Clegg – kept his seat but lost his party
  • Douglas Alexander – the only thing worse than being the campaign chief for such a bad result is losing your seat to a 20 year old
  • The pollsters
  • Natalie Bennett – an embarrassing campaign from the Green Leader who failed to win a seat
  • Nigel Farage – failed to win his seat, and they lost one of their two defectors from the Conservatives. Has promised to resign, but is not ruling out standing again as leader (doing a Cunliffe)
  • George Galloway – the loathsome one is gone and buried. Not even close. He lost by 11,000 votes and only got 21%. Last time he won by 10,000 votes. One of the most vile people in UK politics who ran a disgusting campaign against Labour’s Naz Shah.

The UK result under proportional representation

May 10th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The UK has FPP. The Conservatives won a majority with 37% of the vote. The Greens and UKIP got over 16% of the vote between them yet got only a seat each. This is seen as unfair, and proportional representation does produce more proportional results which many see as fairer.

The activism for proportional representation tends to come from the left, but I’m not sure they would have liked a proportional result on the 2015 election. I show below what it would have been.

Of course it is likely people would have voted differently under a PR system. Yes. But we can only model with the data we have, which is the actual result.


So under PR the UK Independence Party would have 83 seats, instead of one. The SDP would hold 31 seats instead of 56 and the Lib Dems 52 seats instead of eight. And the Conservatives and Labour would have fewer seats – and the Greens 25.

If you look at the blocs, the right bloc would still have a majority under proportional representation. They’d be just 10 seats down. However it would be a Conservative/UKIP Government, not a majority Conservative one.

The left would do worse under PR with Labour and the SNP both losing seats, but the Greens picking some up. They’d be 33 seats down compared to FPP.

The Lib Dems in the centre would be best – going from eight seats to 44.

Who won seats off whom

May 9th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The final results for the UK election are:

  1. Conservatives 331 (+24)
  2. Labour 232 (-26)
  3. SNP 56 (+50)
  4. Lib Dems 8 (-49)
  5. DUP 8
  6. Sinn Fein 4 (-1)
  7. Plaid Cymru 3
  8. SDLP 3
  9. UUP 2 (+2)
  10. UKIP 1 (+1)
  11. Greens 1
  12. Others 1
  13. Alliance 0 (-1)

Now looking at that you might think the Conservatives won their seats off Labour and the SNP off the Lib Dems. But far more complicated. Here are the seat changes:

  1. SNP won 40 seats off Labour
  2. Conservatives won 27 seats off the Lib Dems
  3. Labour won 12 seats off the Lib Dems
  4. Conservatives won 10 seats off Labour
  5. SNP won 10 seats off the Lib Dems
  6. Labour won 8 seats off the Conservatives
  7. UKIP won 1 seat off the Conservatives
  8. UUP won 1 seat off the DUP
  9. UUP won 1 seat off Sinn Fein
  10. DUP won 1 seat off the Alliance

So Conservatives gained a net two seats directly off Labour.

The Lib Dems lost 27 seats to the Conservatives, 12 to Labour and 10 to the SNP.

And the SNP took 40 off Labour.

They key to the Conservatives getting a majority was that they won so many seats off the Lib Dems, and Labour failed to pick up (net) seats from the Conservatives.

Why the UK polls were wrong

May 9th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar


As you can see the UK pre-election polls were wrong. Quite massively wrong. The Conservatives beat Labour by 6% and have won a clear majority. Only one poll of of the several dozen in the last few weeks got close to this. The poll were near unanimous that the Conservatives and Labour would be tied in the vote, and Conservatives would get only a few more seats. Instead they got 98 more.

So why were the polls do wrong? Not one poll, but almost all of them. There three broad plausible explanations – which are not mutually exclusive.

1 – People lie to the pollsters

Someone tweeted that the British have shown the one thing they’re really good at is lying to their pollsters.  A more polite version of this is what the Guardian calls Shy Tories. People don’t like to admit they are voting for a party. One has seen this in the US when one candidate is African-American. Also in NZ to a degree where I suspect one of the reasons NZ First often exceeds the polls, is people don’t like to admit they are voting for them.

But I think it is unlikely this explains most or even much of what happened.

2 – People change their mind

Either the undecideds decide to vote a certain way disproportional to the already decideds, or some decideds change their mind. One reason for this is tactical voting. This is why ACT keep winning Epsom despite poll after poll showing them behind. People only get tactical at the last minute.

Major newspapers published guides as to how to tactically vote to maximise the outcome for your preferred PM. This could have had quite an impact.

However while I think this may have been some of it, I don’t think it was the major factor. Even in seats where there was no ability to vote tactically (no major third party), you saw the Conservatives pick up seats off Labour.

3 – Turnout was different

Turnout was higher than expected in many areas. If one side does better at turning out their supporters, this can have a big impact.

In NZ the impact of Dotcom was to so enrage Government supporters, they advance voted in record numbers – determined to keep him out.

If you look at the motivations to vote in the UK for Conservative and Labour voters, they were quite different. Conservative voters had a pretty strong motivation to vote to keep Ed Miliband out, and to stop a party which wants to dissolve the United Kingdom, from holding the balance of power. A Mliband Government propped up by the SNP was very scary to many.

However if you are a Labour supporter, your best outcome was a Labour minority government that could only govern with the SNP’s votes. This is hardly motivating stuff.

So I suspect (we’ll know more as we get more data) that the major difference was turnout.


Of some interest is that in several elections now, it has been the more right wing parties that have exceeded their polls. In Israel Likud did massively better than the polls, as did the Conservatives in the UK. In the 2014 US mid-terms the Republicans did far better in the Senate than projected. And even in NZ National did better than the polls (but within margin of error). I’m not saying this is significant – just that it could be. Or it could just be chance. In one Victorian state election the Liberal Party did far far worse than the polls, and in NZ in 2011 National did a bit worse than the polls. But

The Independent endorses Conservatives/Lib Dems as the UK votes

May 8th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Guardian reports:

The Independent newspaper has backed the continuation of a Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition government if Thursday’s general election produces the expected hung parliament.

In a verdict that took many Westminster observers by surprise, the newspaper said in an editorial that a minority Labour administration reliant on the support of the SNP would be “a disaster for the country”.

Not only did Ed Miliband’s opposition appear “unready for government” in too many policy areas, there would be “justified fury” if nationalists seeking the breakup of the UK were to hold sway, it said.

This is unexpected.

Most UK newspapers endorse the party that reflects their readership and ideology.

But The Independent is regarded as coming from the centre-left. For them to endorse the Conservatives as well as the Lib Dems is significant. But not sure how much weight endorsements carry.

Results should start to be known from around now onwards.


UK Seat Forecast

May 7th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The seat forecast site I use the most is May 2015. They have their own forecast and also list five other ones.

Here’s what their final pre-election forecast is:

  • Conservatives 273 (33.6%)
  • Labour 268 (33.3%)
  • SNP 56 (4.4%)
  • Lib Dems 28 (8.8%)
  • DUP 8
  • Sinn Fein 5
  • SDLP 3
  • Plaid Cymru 3
  • UKIP 2 (13.4%)
  • Greens 1 (4.8%)
  • George Galloway 1

Of the 650 seats, you need 326 to govern. But Sinn Fein tend not to vote or turn up so of 645 votes in play you need 323.

If we look at rough blocs you have:

Right – Conservatives 273 + DUP 8 + UKIP 2 = 283

Left – Labour 268 + SNP 56 + SDLP 3 + Plaid Cymru 3 + Greens 1 + Galloway 1 = 332

Centre – Lib Dems 28

Labour is definitely in a preferred position. Even if the Conservatives get Lib Dems support they are 311 – 12 seats short. They need to beat the poll predictions by 12 seats.

Labour can’t govern without SNP support. Without them they are 276 and even f Lib Dems support are 304.

The SNP has said they will not vote confidence in a Conservative government. Labour have said they will not do any deal with SNP, either coalition or confidence and supply. So SNP has to back a Labour Govt even if no policy deal, or force another election.

It is interesting to consider what the result would be if the UK had proportional representation. Based on the polls, a proportional Parliament (excluding 18 Irish seats) would be:

  • Conservatives 212 (vs 273)
  • Labour 210 (vs 268)
  • UKIP 85 (vs 2)
  • SDP 56 (vs 29)
  • Greens 30 (vs 1)
  • SNP 27 (vs 56)
  • Others 11

So a proportional system would see UKIP gain the most, followed by Greens and SDP. The losers would be the SNP, Conservatives and Labour.

However a Conservative government would be more likely, as the blocs would be:

Right – Conservatives 212 + UKIP 85 = 297

Left – Labour 210 + SNP 27 + Greens 30 = 267

Centre – Lib Dems 56


It will be interesting to see the results tomorrow. I’ll be at the UK High Commission and will do a bit of blogging and tweeting during the day. As it is FPP, you should take the projections with caution. There are rarely national swings, and while there has been a lot of electorate polling, some of this is now quite dated. Also turnout motivation may be higher on the right – to stop the SNP having the balance of power.

Nobody knows why Cameron wants to be PM

May 6th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

An interesting critique by Peter Saunders of the CIS:

This UK election campaign has been the most tepid and uninspiring I can remember.  Everyone seems bored. 

Support for Labour and Conservatives has hardly flickered (both stuck around 33%).  Barring some last minute seismic shift, Britain is heading for another hung Parliament, this time with the socialists of the Scottish National Party holding the balance of power.  They will back Labour.

The Tories have run an ineffective campaign.  They’ve targeted Miliband, but the Labour leader performed well in TV debates and his ratings are up (from minus 52% to minus 18%!).  Voters say the Tories have been too negative.

With the economy apparently strengthening, the Conservatives should have had a positive story to tell.  Growth is the strongest in Europe.  Two million new private sector jobs have been created (more than in the rest of the EU put together).  Real wages are recovering.  The deficit has halved (though debt is still huge).  This should be enough to win an election.

The Tory campaign has been based on no one wanted Miliband as PM. But Miliband has performed okay in the campaign. I agree that they should have been campaigning on the economy more.

The Conservatives seem ashamed of their successes.  Four hundred free schools have been founded, 4,000 schools have become self-governing academies freed from local council control, and education standards at last are rising.  But none of this gets mentioned (Cameron sacked his Education Minister to appease the teacher unions).

Always a mistake, appeasement.

Week after week, the focus is on the NHS (Labour’s strong suit) and immigration (where the Tories are outflanked by UKIP).  Voters have been left wondering: What do the Conservatives stand for? 

In a telling blunder, Cameron this week forgot the name of the football team he claims to support.  It was symptomatic of his lack of belief in anything.  He wants to be Prime Minister.  But nobody knows why.

They may get the largest number of seats, but with the SNP likely to win almost every seat in Scotland, this puts Labour in the stronger position. However a UK Government propped by a party that wants to dissolve the UK is unlikely to be stable or popular!

How UK voters are moving

April 18th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar


An interesting graphic from the UK.

You can see how Conservatives are losing most of their support to UKIP. A wee bit to Labour.

Labour has lost support to UKIP, Conservatives and Greens.

Lib Dems are bleeding everywhere.

All the polls are still predicting a hung Parliament, with the SNP, Lib Dems and Irish possibly being needed to govern.

A UK lobbying scandal

February 24th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Two former British Foreign Secretaries are exposed for their involvement in a new “cash for access” scandal.

Jack Straw and Sir Malcolm Rifkind offered to use their positions as politicians on behalf of a fictitious Chinese company in return for payments of at least 5000 ($10,231) a day.

Straw, one of Labour’s most senior figures, boasted he operated “under the radar” to use his influence to change European Union rules on behalf of a commodity firm paying him 60,000 a year. He has been suspended from Labour following the disclosures, described by the party as “disturbing”.

Straw claimed to have used “charm and menace” to convince the Ukrainian Prime Minister to change laws on behalf of the same firm. Straw also used his Commons office to conduct meetings about possible consultancy work – a potential breach of rules. And he suggested his Commons researcher had worked on his private business matters, raising further questions.

Rifkind, who oversees Britain’s intelligence agencies on behalf of Parliament, said he could arrange “useful access” to every British ambassador in the world because of his status.

The senior Conservative told undercover reporters from the Telegraph and Channel 4’s Dispatches, to be broadcast today, he would submit questions to ministers on behalf of a paying client, without revealing their identity.

Rifkind also described himself as “self-employed” and had to “earn my income” – despite being paid 67,000 by the taxpayer for his work as an MP. The disclosure that two of Britain’s most senior politicians are embroiled in a new “cash for access” scandal highlights Parliament’s failure to address the issue which has plagued British politics for a generation.

MPs should not accept payment for any sort of lobbying or representation. If the 67,000 pounds a year is not adequate income, then they should leave Parliament and become full time lobbyists. But you can’t and shouldn’t do both.

One problem the UK has is that they have so many MPs, there is not enough meaningful work for all of them to do. Those who have previously been Ministers and are unlikely to be Ministers again often disengage from parliamentary work. One solution is reducing the number of MPs. The Conservatives tried to do this, but were blocked by Labour and the Lib Dems.

A rule of thumb for the ideal size of a lower house is the cube root of the population. This suggests the UK needs 400 MPs, not 650.

Boris backs Kiwis to work in the UK

November 5th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

London Mayor and parliamentary hopeful Boris Johnson is backing a report by a British think-tank which calls for New Zealanders and Australians to freely live and work in Britain.

Mr Johnson has written a foreword to a Commonwealth Exchange report which calls for Kiwis and Australians to be given the same rights to travel and work in the United Kingdom as people from the European Union. …

It recommended establishing a “bilateral mobility zone” which would allow Kiwis and Aussies to travel and work in Britain and Britons to travel and work reciprocally in those two countries. A similar argument was made for Canada.

Sounds a great idea.

For those who argue NZ would be swamped by British workers, well look at the benefits of CER where we have an open labour market with Australia.

It won’t happen of course, but is a good idea.

The purge of the middle aged men

July 16th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Guardian reports:

David Cameron has completed his biggest reshuffle in office, demoting the trouble-making Michael Gove to chief whip, installing the Eurosceptic Philip Hammond as foreign secretary and promoting two more women to the cabinet.

The prime minister has cleared out a dozen middle-aged and older men from his ministerial ranks in order to create a more female and less privileged top team. The strategy behind the shake-up is being attributed to Lynton Crosby, Cameron’s election adviser, as the party seeks to make itself look more representative of society before the election.

The size of the reshuffle is huge. Almost every major portfolio affected.

However, there are already signs of a backlash within the party about the scale of the sackings. Among the centrists, there is unhappiness about the departure of Dominic Grieve as attorney general, who has stood up for the European court of human rights

No wonder he went. The ECHR is massively unpopular in the UK.

Two UK jail terms

July 5th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Rolf Harris gets 69 months for 12 offences against young girls, and Andy Coulson gets 18 months for phone hacking.

What did the Brits ever do for us

June 15th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Oliver Hartwich writes on the impact of Britain on the world:

There is something that is undoubtedly special about Britain. It is not just a small, rainy island in the North Atlantic. It is not just another mid-sized northern hemisphere country. In many ways, Britain has been, and still is, much more than that.

Other countries may also lay claim to some socio-political developments or scientific inventions, but none other could boast to have started modernity with the same justification.

It was Britain in which monarchs first had to respect the rights of the people and of parliament. Magna Carta and the Glorious Revolution paved the way towards liberal parliamentary democracy. Britain was the birthplace of the Enlightenment, which was a prerequisite of scientific discovery in the age of invention, the industrial revolution and the development of economic thinking.

The Common Law, developed since the Norman invasion, had become an important tool in the promotion of a commercial society. The protection of property rights and freedom of contract were at the heart of this British version of law.

Taken together, the UK made the modern world, it dominated it until around the time of the Great War, and it still wields incredible soft power to the present day. Britain’s greatness is not just a historic feature. It still makes Britain a special country today, not least because of the spread of the English language.

For example, ask yourself where the world gets its news from, and a large part of the answer would be from the BBC, the Financial Times and The Economist.

Other countries may produce better cars, more efficient machinery and certainly more palatable wine than but few others would be better at selling their ideas, culture and beliefs to the world. 

The world would be a very different and far worse place today, if it were not for Britain. And there are not many other countries you can say that about.

Does UKIP doing well mean they will leave the EU?

April 30th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Iain Martin writes at the Telegraph:

YouGov for The Sunday Times yesterday asked voters how they would vote in the event of a referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU. Despite the country being, according to Ukippers, on the brink of a revolution which will bring down the entire political Establishment and liberate Britain from the LibLabCon tyranny, the numbers suggest that Britain wants to stay in the EU.

Asked how they would vote in an in/out referendum, 40 per cent said they would vote to stay in, 37 per cent said out, 18 per cent don’t know and 5 per cent would stay at home watching Cash in the Attic. Obviously a lot to play for, with as you might expect, a large number of don’t knows. Still, the inners are in front, despite all the recent excitement related to the European elections.

And look at the result when a second question was asked.

“Imagine the British government under David Cameron renegotiated our relationship with Europe and said that Britain’s interests were now protected, and David Cameron recommended that Britain remain a member of the European Union on the new terms. How would you then vote in a referendum on the issue?”

In such circumstances, 50 per cent say they would vote to stay in, 26 per cent to leave, 18 per cent don’t know and 5 per cent would stay at home watching the repeats of Location, Location, Location which (I’m told) follow Cash in the Attic.

So it could go either way if no renegotiation, but will stay in if there is one.

A caveat applies, of course. Perhaps Cameron would not get a renegotiation, with other major EU countries perhaps being incapable of seeing that unless there is a major shift in how the EU is structured one of its key members (the UK) could decide to try something else instead. 

It takes only one other country to block it, but if they do so then they will be responsible for the likely departure of the UK.

What I think we will see is a two-tier EU. One bloc being committed to full integration, and another to a less binding set of rules.

Before the hardliners from among the Ukip hordes – increasingly almost as intolerant of dissent as hardline Scottish nationalists, I note – denounce me as a traitor to my country, I want to make it clear that I am a moderate Eurosceptic who cherishes European culture but thinks the EU as currently constituted is bloated and bossy. In the event of a referendum I am persuadable, based on the arguments laid out by the inners and the outers, although like many people, I particularly hate being shouted at by golf club bar bores. I’m perfectly prepared to accept that the UK could have a successful and bright future trading as either an associate member of the EU or completely outside it with free trade agreements, if the outers explain, calmly, how the numerous obstacles might be overcome.

I have a similar view.

Arrested for quoting Churchill in England

April 30th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Telegraph reports:

A candidate in the European elections has been arrested after making a speech quoting from a book by Winston Churchill about Islam.

Paul Weston, chairman of the far right Liberty GB party, was making the speech on the steps of Winchester Guildhall, Hampshire, on Saturday, when a member of the public complained to police and he was arrested.

He had been reading from Churchill’s book The River War, written in 1899 while he was a British army officer in Sudan.

Mr Weston, who is standing as a candidate in the South East European elections on May 22, was detained after he failed to comply with a request by police to move on under the powers of a dispersal order made against him and he was arrested on suspicion of religious/racial harassment.

It’s quite outrageous.

Just as David Irving should be allowed to talk in public on how he thinks the Holocaust is a hoax, people should be allowed to speak in public about their dislike of particular religions.

I’m damn sure if someone was making a speech attacking Christianity, they would not be arrested.

Some UK poll results

February 4th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Been doing the monthly polling newsletter, and in reading the results of the UK polls, noticed some interesting questions this month. results include:

The Labour Party has announced that if it wins next year’s election it will increase the top rate of income tax to 50p for people earning more than £150,000 a year. If Labour does come to power and does increase the top rate of income tax, what do you think will happen in practice?

16% say it raise a significant amount of money and 71% say rich people will find ways to avoid paying the tax and it will raise very little extra money.

Currently people are allowed to use “reasonable” force to defend themselves and their home against a burglar or intruder. Some people have suggested that the law should be changed to allow people to use whatever force they see fit to defend themselves and their home against a burglar or intruder. Would you support or oppose changing the law to allow people to use whatever force they see fit to defend themselves and their home against a burglar or intruder?

An astonishing 75% support no limit on what force can be used to defend a home with only 17% against. And specifically on lethal force:

Do you think it is or is not acceptable for someone defending their home to use force that causes the death of a burglar or intruder?

60% support lethal force and only 26% against. Even Labour voters are 55% in favour and 30% against.

The Channel 4 news presenter Jon Snow recently said he always thought about sex upon meeting a member of the opposite sex, saying ‘Sex comes into every evaluation of a woman, there’s no doubt about it. It’s there,’

When you meet a member of the opposite sex, do you think about what they would be like to make love to?

36% say they do and 60% say they do not. But broken by gender it is 56% of men do and only 18% of women!

If a referendum were held on the UK’s membership of the European Union with the options being to remain a member or withdraw, how do you think you would vote?

52% say they would vote to leave and 34% to remain. 62% of Conservatives favour leaving, 40% of Labour and 36% of Lib Dems.