I think we all do from time to time. Fortunately, I know a guru who has written on precisely this topic. It's an article called Motivation & Uncertainty. His other stuff is also excellent.
I've decided to spend June learning Czech. Unfortunately, the course I wanted to attend is fully booked, so I'm going to try plan B and learn at home. I'll keep up with posts at the Ghost Cabinet, but my focus has to move away from this site if I'm going to make headway with Czech. Anyway, it will be an interesting experiment to track what happens to site traffic, when a blogger takes a break. I'll come back when Blair goes.
31 May 2007
I think we all do from time to time. Fortunately, I know a guru who has written on precisely this topic. It's an article called Motivation & Uncertainty. His other stuff is also excellent.
How did the phrase "Don't get caught in bed with a dead woman or a live man" gain common currency in political circles?
Some say that the old saying "You are what you eat" has religious origins. What are they?
Who was the famous political figure who scrawled "Watch the borders" on a report because the writer had not respected the protocol for margins? This was taken as an order and led to tightened border controls for several weeks.
The origins of these stories and phrases may indeed be what I have read or heard or maybe not.
This is an open thread for questions and answers re myth-making. Have fun.
30 May 2007
On July 21/22 I'm going to be running a few group sessions at the Conservative Future Working Life Conference in my hometown of Birmingham on the theme of blogging. I plan to start with a brief overview of some recent academic research into the profiles, motivations and attitudes of leading right-wing bloggers in the UK. We'll go on to discuss practical blogging pitfalls and I expect participants to leave with the tools and confidence to blog.
Teaching is always a good way of learning and it's been quite good fun doing research on the internet for this. Without going over the top, I have been trying to distill the key practical skills for a political blogger. Imho, if you can improve your proficiency in any of these areas, it will probably make a noticeable difference to your blogging capabilities.
Writing - Croydonian has a style which is concise and yet engaging. I like Kerron's conversational style of writing, too. How easy you are to read is a crucial factor in how successful you blog can be.
Arguing - A course in critical thinking wouldn't go amiss - if only to make yourself aware of your opponent's likely spoiling tactics. Dizzy's good at arguing. Although, if you're too good, you won't get any comments (joke).
Public Relations - How do you market yourself to achieve the audience that you're looking for? I think I'll tap Ellee for some smart ideas.
Psychology - You learn a lot about people when you blog. I doubt I'll ever be as skilled as a pro, but I'm not averse to picking up insights from Dr Michelle Tempest's blog.
The weekend itself looks excellent and there are many superb speakers planned. If you're not signed up yet, get your skates on. Link. Does anyone have any relevant thoughts or resources that they'd like to share?
29 May 2007
Graham Brady has resigned from his role as Shadow European Minister. Statement. I'm sure he "loved" his role, but due to his decision of conscience we now have to find a new Conservative MP to take on the Europe brief. Here's your mission should you choose to accept. Old Etonians and people with a known view on Europe need not apply.
Mission Statement - Form a reform grouping of parties drawn from at least 5 states across the EU in anticipation of the 2009 Euro-elections.
Key Obstacles To Overcome -
1. You will get next to no assistance from your other partners in Czech or Bulgaria as you are the biggest member of the coalition, are not new to the EU and therefore are expected to provide leadership.
2. The current Conservative leadership of the MEP delegation will see Brady's departure as an opportunity to stay within the EPP and will be actively working against your mission. They will do their utmost to provoke disunity and prevent the new grouping develop any clarity of vision.
3. There is little opportunity to bring fresh blood into the 2009 delegation because of the MEP selection rules that have been approved by the party board.
4. You may not form coalitions with other parties that have a similar stance on Europe if they are pro-death penalty or opposed to equality for homosexuals. Neither of these issues has anything to do with Europe or EU reform, but nevertheless these rules must be followed. In other words, forget attempting to team up with Polish or Slovak right-wingers.
Rewards For Success & Penalties For Failure
Should you succeed in your mission, your leader will take credit for building this coalition, but will have made many sworn enemies along the way. Should you fail in your mission, you will take the blame and be dispatched to the back-benches. You will have made many sworn enemies along the way.
Congratulations to Mark Francois. He comes from the Treasury team and had a comprehensive education. I do not know his views on Europe. I saw him interviewed on 18 Doughty Street a few months back and was left with a favourable impression. Mark, let us know when you come to visit Prague.
As an ordinary Conservative party member, I've been trying to put my finger on what modernisation is so that I can fit in with this trendy new strategy. I've failed to accept certain ideas which I am told are modernising such as courting non-Conservatives to stand on our party ticket, anti-democratic MEP selection procedures and not being a low tax party, so I have redoubled my efforts to find ways to modernise. Finally, from the unexpected source of Melissa Kite I have found something I can do to bolster my modernising credentials.
Love-Bombing Lib Dems
Top Tory blogger Mr Newmania is going to hate me for this, but there are Lib Dems I like and I am generally happy to try to work with them when possible. Even flatter them - although I wouldn't use the term love-bomb. Admittedly, I struggle to find common ground with Lib Dems who are in favour of big government - but I tend to manage to ignore them. I'd like to draw attention to some of my favourite Lib Dem bloggers.
I appreciate Cllr Stephen Tall for his open-minded approach to politics. For example there are not many Liberal bloggers who would take the opportunity to discuss school vouchers whilst the Tory grammar school debate continues to rumble.
Andy Mayer is another independent thinker and presents his arguments well. I think his party should embrace some of his ideas such as the ones in this election post.
In the very authoritarian climate of our time, I find it easy to make common cause with freedom-loving Liberals like Jock Coats who has recently returned to blogging -although given his fervent liberalism, I wouldn't mind clarification of what he meant by "sexual deviants" on this post.
And if you've got the time, check this fascinating forum thread, where I've been happy to support Cllr Martin Mullaney and John Hemming MP for their work in exposing electoral fraud in Birmingham and Labour's inaction related to such matters.
26 May 2007
To prevent another anti-democratic move, I am backing this campaign to protect the freedom of the press in Venezuela. By inciting violence against the media in Venezuela, Hugo Chavez has already undermined the workings of the press and caused self-censorship. The growing coalition backing this campaign includes the European Parliament, the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations (including Senators Lugar, Dodd, Clinton, Obama, Kennedy, and McCain) and organizations as diverse as Reporters Without Borders, the Committee to Protect Journalists, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International.
Meanwhile, certain so-called democrats from the British Labour Party and the "liberal elite" stand side-by-side with Chavez. First this from Labour MP Colin Burgon in the Guardian and then this letter in the same rag.
For all of Cruddas' blather of democracy as he pitches for the Deputy Leadership, don't forget that he is strongly in favour of ID cards - 3 million Venezuelans are discriminated against for signing a petition in 2004. It is deeply worrying that Cruddas and others on this list are influential within the UK's governing party. Turns out that both MPs on this list have previous with Chavez. Still unsure? More on Chavez here. And don't forget the price that Chavez put on the cheap oil that he supplies to London's Mayor - Ken Livingstone. Genetic scanning and fingerprinting and cctv technologies. Source.
Rather puts the grammar schools debate into perspective. Well it ought to.
The annual Prague Fringe Festival is about to descend on the city. I'm definitely going to watch the Stephen Frost Impro Allstars. They are a bunch of "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" veterans so that should be cool. All the venues are close to each other so I'll get the buzz on the other shows before deciding. For some reason an aubergine is being used to market the festival.
In a political debate, "Trotting out the same old tired arguments" equals "That is a very strong argument that I can't deal with". Discuss.
24 May 2007
I've written about Slave Labour before and have just prepared an article for the second book of New Labour Sleaze on worker exploitation by the Labour Party. Whilst I appreciate that the Home Office is stretched due to woeful mismanagement, it is crucial that rogue employers are tackled. Serious allegations have recently come to light about work practices at suppliers of "fair trade" fruit, which are now compounded by suggestions of illegal employment which fellow blogger Guthrum has rightly taken seriously.
After leaving an au pair assignment in the late 1990s, my girlfriend was briefly an illegal worker in the UK. No doubt the same cafe owners who exploited her are now employing nationals with no rights to work in the UK and are in the process undercutting and driving legitimate businesses to the wall. I hope to hear of action taken after this expose. I'm not filled with hope.
Given that we get the legendary incompetence of Labour MPs rubbed in our faces on a regular basis, it feels rather cruel to introduce you to an international example of Labour madness. But sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind.
It's not lightly that I say that Labour's deputy leader in Europe, Richard Corbett, writes the most irritating "weblog" of any politician bar none. Today he's celebrating the introduction of a Stalinist price control. Earlier in the year, he started a post by comparing eurosceptics with Goebbels.
So here's Richard Corbett's recipe for an irritating "weblog"
1. Fill a website with foolish ignorance.
2. Add in generous measures of arrogance and intransigence.
3. Take a highly patronising tone. Sprinkle liberally.
4. Apply a no comments function.
Not that it's any of his business, but I note that this man supports Timothy Kirkhope the leader of the Conservative delegation in Europe. This should set all sorts of alarm bells ringing. Also check out his siren attack on Labour's thoughtful Gisela Stuart who served on the Convention on the Future of Europe, which drew up the EU Constitution. On reflection, I can see why he doesn't enable comments on his website. He shouldn't call it a blog though.
23 May 2007
Celebrating Winning Best Newcomer
To have been presented with a Conservative Home award by the delightful Nadine Dorries would have been a wonderful moment, but I could hardly justify a trip to London on the off-chance. Having blogged since last summer I hardly feel like a newcomer, but the criterion for the newcomer tag was to have started in 2006.
Iain Dale was a deserving overall winner and has put a mini-report on his blog. As well as being a fan of Archbishop Cranmer's blog, I am particularly pleased at the success of Birmingham University Conservative Forum blog. What many people may not realise is that as well as being very readable, the BUCF blog has also been a springboard for unprecedented Conservative successes in the guild elections at their university. Daniel, Joseph and the team deserve the plaudits.
The Next Generation Of Conservative Bloggers
It's been smashing to see the likes of Daniel and Matthew Sinclair (formerly of LSE) develop their political identities online and I would definitely like to see more young Conservatives blogging. Not only should the British Conservative movement be appealing to this generation, but it should be engaged with and influenced by them, too. I think it's notable that of the 10 Conservative blogs from the West Midlands that I link to, seven are younger than me and none of them are much older than me (I'm 32). Let's keep the momentum going.
22 May 2007
So it has been announced that HIP-lite is to be ushered in to cover just 20%* of the residential housing market. With Home Information Packs (HIPs) as with supercasinos, the government unleashed a massive white elephant only to scale back at the very last minute in the face of reasonable and almost unanimous opposition. Not really the way to go, but we should be used to it. I'm sure there are plenty of disgruntled energy assessors and May house sellers today.
HIPs are a terrible idea, but I suppose having a pilot scheme applying to the rich isn't a disastrous outcome. Commentators who had predicted that the introduction of HIPs could precipitate a collapse in house prices were probably wrong. In fact, they may well be a factor in keeping the current residential property bubble going as the most direct effect of their introduction will be a fall in the number of high-end properties brought to market. The housing market is already woefully clunky. HIPs will do little more than add an additional bottleneck.
Of course, as Labour have known all along (and this is an indictment of the British electorate), the government left holding the baby when property prices do collapse will pay a big price at the ballot box. Note that Labour policies of mass immigration, increased planning regulation, shared equity and key worker schemes have only served to delay and intensify the inevitable day of reckoning.
Phased in land value tax to replace the existing muddle of property taxes is the only sensible market solution to the housing crisis. For the record, if Yvette Cooper is the kind of dogmatic, hectoring screwball who will be promoted under Brown, you should be very concerned, if you aren't already...
In preparing this post, it's dawning on me that HIPs aren't going to happen at all. If you're a trained energy assessor, I'd advise you to find something else to do.
* This estimate would no doubt include my parents' home, but their "fourth" bedroom is an office. I'd imagine that, in practice, HIPs will apply to less than 10% of the housing market.
21 May 2007
One of the great things about blogging is the chance to pontificate. For example, I particularly enjoy this recent prediction by the UK Daily Pundit.
Following corroborated reports from well-placed sources, I am now in a position to reveal that Gordon Brown will never become prime minister. The exact reason why American secret services are determined to scupper his chances may never come to light, but that is beside the point.
Plans are well underway to stage-manage Gordon's exit from the political spotlight and I understand that Gordon is to be well rewarded as part of the deal that has been arranged.
A major consequence of this development is that Labour's deputy leadership election will soon become a leadership contest. Tony Blair is privately supporting Hazel Blears professional campaign and a general election will be called should Hazel get the top job. Blair will be leading the Labour Party in opposition by the end of 2007.
NB - Bookmakers were under strict instructions to pay out early on the Brown premiership betting markets to secure against insider trading and to guard against unfortunate smoke signals. Rest assured that I have made enough money on secondary markets to keep me in blogging for the foreseeable future.
18 May 2007
Some more fascinating insights from the corridors of power from the excellent Benedict Brogan. As his departure looms, is the Home Office any less of a mess than when John Reid took over a year ago?
17 May 2007
Met a new group of people last night. When I mentioned that I have a political website, everyone who expressed a preference said that they were also conservatives. One chap, who is a teacher in his late 20s, wants me to send him the membership form so that he can join up with Conservatives Abroad. Excellent.
16 May 2007
I've been following the MTAS debacle unfold since the early days. Just seen Patricia Hewitt interviewed on Channel Four news. She is responsible for this mess.
Not only has this episode led directly to incredible distress and discomfort to doctors and patients, but there have been many heroes and villains of the piece.
Well done Dr Crippen, Michelle Tempest, The Stirrer and David Cameron for holding the government to account. Who else deserves a mention?
15 May 2007
Blair's Triumph Of Style
This image may well come to take symbolic importance at some point in the future. Of course I am deeply disappointed by Blair's tenure because amongst other things he lacked vision and delivered a triumph of spin over truth. But, credit must be given to Blair for his ability to run a professional team. Whilst there are signs that he has increasingly become surrounded by sycophants, he has shown that he has been able to take criticism and change his mind when necessary. And over a 10 year stint, he has made very few PR mistakes. His team's presentational abilities have been a major strong point.
Brown's Emphasis On Substance
With Brown, all the signs point to the opposite. Of course some people will fairly argue that substance is more important than style. This is all very well, but I believe that his style will be his downfall regardless of his substance (which appears to be a mirage to me anyway). In the future, his habits of not delegating, blaming others and going off in a sulk won't just damage him, but also the government and probably the country too.
The Blame Culture
Any dominant manager who fails to delegate and punishes others unfairly creates a culture where communication is not open and where people avoid responsibility and harbour grudges. Not a good team environment. When you "shoot the messenger" minor problems frequently become crises before they become apparent at which point you can guarantee that the key players will be pointing at each other. The foreign prisoners' scandal is a perfect example of this.
Don't Say You Weren't Warned
The autocue debacle is a small piece of unprofessionalism. Who was responsible for setting up the press conference? Were they fully trusted to do the job or did Gordon or one of his inner circle interfere? You can guess the answers and this is indicative of what we can expect from a Brown-led government - and it will lead to poor government. Just don't say you weren't warned.
Incredibly, Brown sycophant-in-chief Neil Lawson thinks that the autocue incident is symbolic of what is best about Brown. He's getting a well deserved roasting in the comments.
14 May 2007
I haven't said much about Blair's departure because I prefer to look to the future, but this week's leader in the Economist (which costs about £4 in Czech money) provoked me into responding. I couldn't fail to fisk the following extract from their front article.
...On most measures, Mr Blair has left Britain a better place than it was in 1997. Uninterrupted economic growth has made the average Britain substantially better off, even if the tax burden has risen.
Research by the Centre for Policy Studies shows that double-income families with two children have seen their disposable weekly income fall in real terms from £709 to £706 a week between 2002 and 2006. It’s also worth noting the change in average household debt. In 1997 it was £16,155. In 2007 it is £54,318.
There are fewer tatty schools and run-down hospitals.Indeed, there are substantially fewer schools and hospitals. There are 5% less state primaries now than in 1997, 6% less state secondaries, 10% less special schools and 17% less LEA nurseries and the government is running a mass hospital closure programme. In an event without precedent, in 2001, an independent MP unseated a Labour MP on a platform of protecting public health services.
And as for rundown hospitals, the chances of picking up preventable infections in a hospital has ballooned under Labour.
Although many exams lack rigour, more children are getting respectable gradesAnd you write this in support of Blair?
and going on to universities.To what end? Meanwhile people are needing to work for longer than ever as the pension industry has collapsed under Labour.
Thanks to the minimum wage and tax credits for poor working families, the forces relentlessly pushing up income inequality under Margaret Thatcher have been blunted.Neither of those policies help the very poorest – the eight million economically inactive British adults. Inequality has continued to rise under Labour.
These things are measurableSo why does it seem that you didn’t bother?
Less easy to prove, but just as valuable, are the ways in which Mr Blair has helped make Britain a more tolerant,There are few signs that Labour has created a “safer, more tolerant society” as the Home Office mantra goes. I wished they had just concentrated on making it safer.
more cosmopolitan place.Like much of this article this is very ambiguous. Whilst there may be more cultures that co-exist there is also strong evidence that there is less mixing between them – one aspect of which was described in the report Sleep-walking towards segregation. A clearer way of making this point would be that Blair has undermined national identity and institutions.
There is a human rights act now;Which is in total disrepute and allowed plane hijackers to claim asylum in the UK. This is not the Economist that I’ve been reading for over 15 years. Why the acceptance of the damaging left-wing touchstone of unconditional human rights?
civil partnerships for homosexuals are recognised.But has this made the country more tolerant? Much as I am loath to invoke them, check the hate crime figures.
Self-government for Scotland,At an enormous cost
WalesAlso at great cost but with an assembly with very few powers.
and now even Northern Irelandwhose Parliament has been suspended for most of its existence.
has extended democracy:But has reduced democracy in England
peace in Ulster must rank amongst Mr Blair’s greatest successes.Despite other factors such as the change in mood after 9/11 and the Republic’s economic success and disinterest in a united Ireland being more powerful factors.
Class matters less:Social mobility is at an all time low.
the fact that the Tories are led by an Old Etonian is, strangely, a sign of progress.Whatever.
Under Mr Blair, fusty old Britain has become an international exemplar of openness.Didn’t realise you hated pre 1997 Britain so much? We’ve always been an open nation by any standard.
Large scale immigration,Oh that’s what you mean. For large scale, read uncontrolled.
especially from the former communist countries of Eastern Europe, has boosted the economyAre you sure? GDP may have risen, but has GDP per capita? Have you quantified the impact on public expenditure and standards of living (e.g. higher residential rental costs)
without triggering a serious backlash of resentment.40% of voters name immigration as their number one issue – and they aren’t calling for more.
Embracing globalisation, London has become one of the most dynamic cities in the world.I believe what you are talking about is the continued success of financial services? If you’re happy with the government’s handling of that sector, you have low standards.
Mr Blair has changed the debate in Europe (Nicolas Sarkozy is a another right-winger in his debt – see next leader)Blair is not a right-winger.
and he has done more than any other Western leader to force people to pay attention to climate change and poverty in Africa.I must agree with that assessment re climate change, but when action has been needed on the African continent such as in Zimbabwe or Sudan what has Blair achieved?
You can go through this list, adding asterisks and footnotes:I’m glad you realise the limitations of this piece.
On the economy, not enough credit goes to the Tories who came before Mr BlairE.g. - the average annual GDP growth from 1992 – 1997 exceeds 1997 to date.
On immigration, for every happy Czech waitress in Covent Garden there are several angry Muslim in LeedsWhat is your point?
He has helped gays but not prisoners or young louts.HELPING PRISONERS & LOUTS!!! Is this a criticism? By the way, did you miss this story?
Still, Blair has improved Britain, on balance, and he has usually stood on the side of liberal progress. This newspaper, for one, has no regrets in having supported him...Firstly, you’re a magazine not a newspaper. Secondly, where is the mention of the cronyism, spin and sheer incompetence that have marked his tenure in most people’s minds? In conclusion, like many others seduced by Blair, you are unable to admit that you made a mistake.
Footnote - Gordon Brown makes an appearance on their website.
11 May 2007
Up Against A Groyne
That's me thinking "Why can't I wear clashing clothes and finish my super sudoku in peace?".
Fighting Off A Hoodie
I'm happy to report that the matter was settled amicably without serious injury.
Apologies for those that like politics, but I've got a backlog of postable pictures from the last few weeks.
10 May 2007
I am honoured to receive a Conservative Home nomination for the best Conservative newcomer blog of 2006. I'm short-listed alongside a friend of mine who runs the erudite Croydonian blog, so I won't try to influence voting which will be done by internet polling.
Now seems as good a time as any to outline my blogging plans for the coming months. I have always said that the best thing about political blogging has been the network of like-minded friends I have accumulated along the way. Indeed, in a week's time a new collobarative political blog will be launched of which I will be a part. In itself this project may impinge on how many political posts I post here. But to be honest that is an excuse of sorts.
After nine months of fairly prolific blogging, you can expect less frequent posting for a time from me. Call it keeping powder dry/pacing myself or whatever you like, but the big prize is kicking Labour out and I don't expect that fight to heat up for some time yet. That's when I'll be back firing on all cylinders.
09 May 2007
In the last couple of days of the campaign I helped Pete Smallbone out in Birmingham Ladywood. As Ladywood is safely Labour, Pete generously diverted some activists towards target wards, but you can't rid of old mates like me so easily and at one point there were six of us campaigning on the eve of the poll. Despite being up against the Labour council leader, Pete managed a small swing against Labour from last year and added exactly 100 votes to his May 2006 result. More here. Nice one, Pete - hope you enjoyed your well-deserved break after the election.
Other Birmingham Seats
I can't claim to have assisted in any way, but the other contests where I was taking a particular interest worked out well. Cllr Tim Huxtable is a friend from my schooldays. When he last contested the Bournville seat in 2004, he achieved a majority 440 over Labour. Last Thursday he managed a majority of 2,175 over the Labour "challenger"! I am sure that Tim will also be delighted about the recent selection decisions in Birmingham Northfield and Birmingham Selly Oak respectively. I was also pleased to see Cllr Adrian Delaney returned in Weoley Castle in a testing contest. But the standout campaign in Birmingham was Gareth Compton's in Erdington. Not only did he deliver an 887 majority in a Labour stronghold, but also garnered some very favourable local press.
On the Erdington theme, I found this picture on the internet from the Erdington campaign. That's Gareth in the white shirt with his arm around the England supporter.
To prove that some bloggers can get off their PCs, there are three bloggers from my blogroll in this snap. Let's see if you can identify them.
Solihull used to be the sort of Conservative constituency that would lend support to neighbouring constituencies at election time. When we lost the Parliamentary seat to the Lib Dems in May 2005, severe questions needed to be asked. So I decided to help out in Solihull in order to repel the yellow peril. It didn't quite work out like that.
Our small, but committed leafletting team covered a large area in the Shirley wards in the final days before the election, but to no avail - we lost every marginal ward. Full results here. The only silver lining is that the six seats that we won have massive Tory majorities, but even that factoid is a bit irritating in a way.
Would it be unfair for me to mention that with just a few days until polling day the only candidate for council that I came across was Shay Parekh (pictured) in Elmdon? Maggie Throup PPC and Caroline Spelman MP know what needs to be done and I hope they will be supported to make sure we get back on track in Solihull. I know I'm probably preaching to the converted, but activism should be at the heart of what it means to be a Conservative Party member.
Just a quick round up of how the Conservatives fared in the locations in which I helped out. More of a memo to self, but feel free to comment.
Wolverhampton's three Parliamentary seats are Labour and unlike some other towns in the Midlands the council remains strongly Labour. I detected an appetite for change and a chance to make a small difference so I happily accepted Jonathan Scott's kind invitation to assist in the area. The overall result in Wolverhampton was a real breakthrough as Labour only won 10 of the 20 seats. This result finally raises the prospect of removing Labour's overall control in the foreseeable future.
Across the city, the most impressive result was in Oxley. Happily, this is where we started leafletting and I was delighted to see the local Tory candidate Ian Bisbey win the seat with a 9.5% swing from Labour. His Labour opponent's final leaflet was desperate negative stuff, so it was nice to see those tactics fail.
The other ward that we covered was Park which is part of the marginal Wolverhampton South West constituency. Carl Husted (pictured with David Cameron and Paul Uppal) will be a little disappointed not to come closer, but this ward appeared to be the main focus of the Liberal Democrat campaign so the result itself was not entirely unexpected.
04 May 2007
I am delighted with the Tory results overall and also the excellence of the predictions I made early in April.
I predicted the Tories would poll 41% nationally - we did.
I predicted we would hold all our seats in Birmingham - we did.
I predicted we would gain three seats in Birmingham namely Kings Norton, Billesley and Erdington - we did.
I need to check the detailed results before concluding that we won the popular vote in Birmingham - I suspect we did. I am going to be in a bullish mood on 18 Doughty Street between 9 and 11 tonight. After that appearance, I'm going to be offline for a few days as Ms PT and I are visiting friends in the countryside.
Conservatives get 40%+ national equivalent in local elections.
25+ Conservative gains in municipal seats thus overtaking Lib Dems.
100+ Conservative gains in unitary authorities.
200+ Conservative gains in shire districts.
Should the Tories fail on the above, I attribute 1% to 2% points of the shortfall to Greg Dyke type coverage during April.
03 May 2007
Mutley the dog has a solution to gun crime. If you haven't managed it up until now, today's your last chance to vote against Blair. Do it. I'm hoping for the best for Pete, Tim, Adrian, Gareth, Sally, Carl, Ian, Tony, Martine, Andrew, Mike, Allan and Michelle. I'll be keeping an eye on Birmingham, Solihull, Wolverhampton, Coventry, Reading, Stoke, East Riding and of course Leeds. Best of luck to all Conservative candidates.
02 May 2007
Last night I showed the Ugandan election observers around Birmingham city centre which they really enjoyed. What I sought and got in return was an in-depth interview. They didn't ask for secrecy, but I feel obliged to edit their stories so as not to place them at risk. It was a splendid night and apparently I will be welcome in 2011 for Uganda's next elections when the opposition is expecting to achieve change.
Today, I was campaigning and the leafleting got off to a bizarre start. I asked a chap lolling by his gate whether he had any particular issues that he would like me to address with the candidate. He fired back "Iraq war" and we set off on a conversation that was necessarily long and frankly utterly disturbing - at one point he headed into the house to try to show me his charge sheet (I understand this means hospital prescription) and was describing how he wished for a state within a state in the UK, the destruction of Iran and the return of all immigrants not born in the UK (although he said he wished his daughter to marry an Arab so he could teach British muslims Islam). I doubt this young Muslim/conspiracy theorist is often challenged on his views, but I also felt sorry for him because I didn't see how he could ever be at ease with the world with the concoction of grievances that he was harbouring. Let's hope he's not a microcosm and has anyone got M15's number?
After this halting start, we made swift progress delivering to the gated communities of "city living" Birmingham. One of the concierges got chatting and painted an idyllic picture of the lovely complex that he manned. He said that in 3 years he'd never had to call the police and that his biggest problem was people parking inappropriately. Ironically, we got back to the car in broad daylight to find a biking policeman on the scene and the car passenger window smashed - despite being hidden, the sat-nav had been nicked. The community policeman was a great bloke and a Conservative and gave us all a few handy insights into the community he policed. I think that crime has just moved up the agenda of the Conservative candidate for Birmingham Ladywood.
So, it's been a weird last 24 hours leading up to the elections. In Birmingham, the feedback I am getting is that people are even angrier about Labour than last year. Postal vote results are looking good for the Tories. Strikingly, Labour leaflets have gone really personal on the Tory candidate in almost all the wards that I am following. Unfortunately, it looks like the weather will be nice which will favour Labour whose supporters are generally less determined to turn out.
01 May 2007
Yesterday was a bright and breezy day in St Martin's in the Bull Ring.
From left to right, Cllr Mike Flower, Cllr Simon Jevon, Keeley Rogers PPC, Paul Uppal PPC, Maggie Throup PPC and the shadow chancellor George Osborne MP. Cllr Deirdre Alden PPC was out of shot and I met the man behind the increasingly unmissable West Midlands Conservative website.
I love Yes Minister and have all the early series on dvd at home in Prague. The guys at Tory Radio have put some really cracking posts together of late. This on is my favourite. Had me laughing anyway. So my challenge to the readership is to answer the question what blogs do you read and what does that say about you?