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Monday, May 04, 2015

Clegg and Miliband go head to head on YouTube

Only one of the two party leaders featured below has approved this message:




Sunday, May 03, 2015

A monolith too far - Labour finally jump the shark

Just when we thought this election could not get any more bizarre the Observer reports that Ed Miliband has commissioned a giant stone inscription bearing Labour’s six election pledges that is set to be installed in the Downing Street Rose Garden if he becomes prime minister.

They say that the 8ft 6in-high limestone structure is intended to underline his commitment to keep his promises by having them literally “carved in stone” and visible from the offices inside No 10.

The stone will be unveiled on Sunday with Labour sources saying it will either be placed in the Rose Garden or at Labour’s central London headquarters if the party wins on Thursday. What happens to it if Labour loses is less clear.

This is the first indication that the Labour leader might have a Moses' complex. For his next trick he will no doubt part the English Channel to take us to the promised European land.

On the other hand this monolith could spark rumours of alien influence on the Labour Party Leader. After all a similar structure featured in Arthur C. Clarke's '2001: A Space Odyssey', placed there by outside forces to guide and shape the human race.

Maybe we should explore the dark side of the moon to see if Labour have also placed a similar structure there.

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Labour cannot escape SNP's embrace if it is to form a government

Ed Miliband is desperate to put some distance between his party and the SNP but has been undermined by his own shadow cabinet, some of whom have made it clear that this is unrealistic if they are to form a government.

Now the Telegraph has published internal SNP documents setting out how they will broker a deal with Labour and where they share common ground.

This is all very sensible of course and I am sure the Liberal Democrats have done the same. Indeed we have already set out red lines for coalition talks.

This is the reality we may be facing this time next week. However, what the actual outcome is will depend on the voters.

Friday, May 01, 2015

A campaigning interlude

I am off out campaigning all day so here is what we got up to last Saturday in Swansea:


Thursday, April 30, 2015

The secret Tory plan to revive regional pay

It is fair to say that things are heating up between the Liberal Democrats and the Tories if today's news is anything to go by.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have just issued a press release lifting the lid on a secret plan by George Osborne in 2014 to revive his proposal for regional pay, even after we had already ruled it out.

They say that in late 2014 the Chancellor tried to revive the policy by asking officials to prepare a report on a “public sector pay premium”, which is a back door way to justify regional pay.

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander has confirmed that he had to personally step in and block the move which would have opened the door to cuts in the pay of workers in Wales by £3,750.

The Party has now released a dossier naming 63 Conservative MPs who are continuing to push for regional pay. The list includes Welsh Tory MP Alun Cairns, five Cabinet Ministers and two members of Cameron’s No.10 policy board.

It is clear that the Tories wanted to pay people less just because they work in Wales. Without the Liberal Democrats in government, the Tories would have taken over a billion pounds out of the Welsh economy, with public sector workers having their wages slashed.

ONS Data shows there are 370,000 public sector employees in Wales. It further shows that on average they earn £3,750 more than those in the private sector each year. These Conservative plans to bring public sector salaries down to the level of private sector in each region would see £1.4 billion taken out of pay packets in Wales each year.

I am pleased at the reassurance from Danny Alexander that when the Tories asked Treasury officials to publish a report backing regional pay in 2014 we were forced to block it and that if Liberal Democrats are returned to government, we will block it again.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

More social media faux pas

It is a feature of modern day life that if you apply for a job or stand for elected office then somebody will spend time trawling through your on-line history and your social media posts in particular.

Thus the latest article in the Independent is only surprising in that they have found a mere five candidates to feature, and they are all Labour.

The paper says that five Labour candidates fighting key target seats at the election have been accused of “blatant sexism” after an analysis of their Twitter feeds found abusive and offensive messages posted online.

One Labour candidate, Jo McCarron, has committed a possibly greater sin in her party's eyes by admitting on-line that she voted for the Liberal Democrats in 2010. She is now standing for Ed Miliband's party in the Conservative-held marginal constituency of Kingswood.

Examples of the tweets can be seen by clicking on the link, but one thing is clear, the excuse given by the Labour Party spokesperson that these tweets were 'silly jokes' is quite weak. I expect more revelations about candidates from other parties in due course.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Are the SNP holding back Labour?

I have already discussed here how the SNP's clear preference to work with Labour in Government at a UK level might be damaging Ed Miliband's prospects of entering number 10 as Prime Minister on 8th May. The Tories have been exploiting this for all it is worth and it seems that their efforts have borne fruit.

The Independent reports that a new poll has concluded that the prospect of a post-election deal between Labour and the Scottish National Party makes one in four voters less likely to support Ed Miliband’s party:

Polling company ORB, which questioned 2,000 people, found that a potential Labour-SNP deal made 25 per cent of voters less likely to vote Labour and 16 per cent more likely – a difference of nine points, which could be crucial in a tight election.

Many of those saying such an agreement makes them more likely to vote Labour already intend to back Labour. Six in 10 people said such an arrangement would make no difference to how they vote.

People who intend to vote Ukip were most likely to be put off by the prospect of a Labour-SNP deal. Some 29 per cent of them said it would make them less likely to back Labour, while only 7 per cent said it would make that more likely.

It is little wonder that Ed Miliband is trying to make it clear that he will not do a deal with the SNP. The problem is that nobody believes him.

Monday, April 27, 2015

How the rich have been paying more tax under the coalition government

Those naysayers who insist to me on a regular basis that the coalition government favours the rich over the poorest in our society may well have to think again if this Financial Times article proves to be correct.

The paper says that people earning more than £2m a year, a small enough group to fit into the Royal Albert Hall, more than doubled their share of income tax to 5 per cent in the past five years.

They add that the growing reliance on the wealthy for revenues is set to continue after the election, with top earners facing reduced tax breaks for pensions and, if Labour leads the next government, a potential 5p rise in the top rate of income tax to 50p and a “mansion tax” on expensive property:

The number of taxpayers with incomes over £2m surged to 5,000 between 2010-11 and 2014-15, pushing up revenues from this group from £3.5bn to £8.9bn, according to estimates from HM Revenue & Customs.

The figures show the responsiveness of the wealthy to changes in tax rates: more income was reported when the 50p rate introduced in 2010 was cut by 5p in 2013. They also fuel uncertainty about the impact of future tax rises.

The paper reports that tax payments are already highly concentrated, with about half of income tax revenues coming from just 3 per cent of adults, although the other main taxes, value added tax and national insurance, are much less skewed to high earners.

Another little known fact to conclude: a millionaire paid £381,000 more tax on their income between 2010 and 2015 than they did in the Labour years 2005 to 2010.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Labour's promises for English private tenants not good enough for Wales

According to this morning's Sunday Times, Labour have announced a plan to slap a cap on rents, banning private landlords from increasing their costs by more than the rate of inflation.

Under their proposals, landlords and letting agencies will have to disclose the rent paid by the previous occupants in a bid to deter new rent rises. Future rent rises will be pegged to rising consumer price. They also propose to make the default tenancy a three-year agreement, rather than the usual six to 12 months so as to give people more certainty over what they will have to pay.

All of these matters are devolved to the Welsh Government and would benefit tenants in Wales and yet there is not a whisper of such radicalism in Labour's Renting Homes Bill, currently making its way through its first committee stage in the Welsh Assembly. In fact they are taking an opposite view.

Labour's proposal is to do away with the six months minimum tenancy, so that a landlord can effectively evict a tenant after two months. This undermines any security of tenure that a private sector tenant might have.

The reason they are giving for introducing a policy that even a Tory Housing Minister in Westminister has not countenanced over the last five years, is that it will encourage landlords to stay in or enter the market.

If Labour are taking the side of landlords in Wales, against the best interests of tenants, then what value can we put on their promises for England?

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Why does Government continue to fail at social media?

Despite avidly using social media myself I am the first to admit that it is a young person's game. It is also a very democratic media in which people vote with their feet.

If you do not capture people's imagination straight away and find a way to keep their attention then you will find that you are talking to yourself. In that respect the likes of Twitter and Facebook are not conventional marketing tools in which you can force your message onto people with persistent advertising. It is a shame that Government has not learnt that lesson.

Today's Times reports that more than £1 million of taxpayers’ money has been spent on failed social media campaigns by government departments in the past three years, including £20,000 on a Facebook promotion that only attracted 2,000 “likes”.

They say that 11 ministerial departments spent a total of £1,172,496 to promote policies and campaigns between 2012 and 2015:


The Ministry of Justice spent £20,000 on a Facebook campaign about restorative justice, while the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills paid Twitter £3,428 for two advertisements.

The House of Lords spent nearly £600 on an IT course in 2013 that was attended by one staff member.

The Cabinet Office spent the highest amount, paying £394,979 to advertise its “GREAT Britain campaign”, encouraging people to do business in the UK.

Bryony Morris, a social media strategist, said that while it was positive to see attempts to reach the public, the levels of engagement were “not good”.

“They [the departments] are wasting money, and should probably consider using a different platform,” she said.

Despite this spokesperson from the Ministry of Justice does not get it. He said: “It is crucial that we utilise all available media channels to raise the public’s awareness of important issues.”.

Well yes, but doing the same thing over and over again is not going to get better results.

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