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Lynton Crosby call for banning election polls is wrong

By Editor
May 17th, 2015 at 10:10 am | No Comments | Posted in Uncategorized

Interviews from Lynton Crosby (the true election professional) are all too rare. But he has stepped forward over the weekend to provide some fascinating analysis of the latest UK General Election.

Much we agree with. But where we disagree with the “Wizard of Oz”, is his call for “…public polls to be banned for the “two or three weeks” before a general election because of their potential impact on the result…”

First and foremost “bannning” something should never be the first instinct of any lover of free markets. Banning stuff has unintended consequences.

In this instance the unintended consequence of banning the publishing of opinion polls for the last couple of weeks of any election, would be to create a two tier system. Those that have information, and those that don’t.

The ban on published polls would not stop opinion polls being commissioned (by banks, political parties, the media and other privileged groups). It would simply deprive us, the average voter, from knowing what those polls said. An “information rich elite” vs “voting public ignorance”.

We would be subjected to an endless chorus of pundits, commentators and journalists alluding to information they “had seen” but “could not report” that pointed in one direction or another. That would not enhance transparency and debate, it would mean the political classes claiming they “knew” stuff that we did not. That does not assist democracy, it merely deepens the gulf between “us” and “them”.

In all likelihood, Mr Crosby probably has the best polling methodology in the UK. So it makes sense for him to use this opportunity to call for such a ban. And he is sufficiently canny to know that planting the suggestion of a ban now may take root – and to his advantage in years to come. We are sure he would much prefer to be able to selectively leak, come May 2020 that “Conservatives insiders believe it is a close race” or “Senior figures inside Conservative HQ believe they are well ahead” – according to his preferred strategy. Fair enough Mr Crosby, but don’t expect us, your average voter, to agree.

What we want it is better polling. It seems to us that the problem with the polls at this election was not necessarily “shy Tories” (wic may explain 1% of the error), so much as the cartel of opinion poll companies tweaking their methodology constantly to keep in step with the pack. For example, polling company Survation has already admitted that it suppressed a poll conducted late in the General Election because the results seemed so “out of line” with previous research they had conducted and the results being reported by their peers that they decided not to publish. Lessons learned we hope.

So we say we would rather that bans, let ’em try again next time, We’d much rather that, than exist in a 2 week vacuum with the political elite spoon-feeding us with whatever spin they wish to serve up.

Polling aside Mr Crosby has many excellent points to make and makes for an excellent read. You read the full interview with him here.

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The case for freedom – short & sweet

By Editor
May 13th, 2015 at 10:15 am | No Comments | Posted in Uncategorized

HAT TIP:   Following the May 7th General Election results, a timely article on the case for freer markets and a less powerful state has just been published by CentreForum. No surprises that the author of this stellar piece is by none other than IEA Director General, Mark Littlewood.

This short (2 page) article is especially recommended to our liberal-minded Conservative MPs; short, pithy and loaded with Littlewood’s delicious and highly repeatable soundbites.  We reckon these are the choicest themes that will be quoted, expanded upon and otherwise used time and again in the months (possibly years) to come.

“[in the past 40 years] state spending has increased by a factor of about three and half in real terms”.

“Spending on all welfare provision in the UK –including state pension provision – amounts to around £8,000 per household. Twice what it was in nominal terms a decade or so ago. “

“Pretty consistently, in recent decades, governments – again of all political persuasions – have only found it possible to collect around 37% of national income in tax receipts… Given this 37% rule seems to be close to being an iron rule, [Government] spending above this on any consistent basis is a road to ruin.”

“[My educated guess is that] the financial services are the second most regulated sector of our economy. I was disappointed it didn’t come top – I think handling weapons grade plutonium comes top.”
Read the full article here.
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Lib Dem Leadership – surely it’s sorted?

By Angela Harbutt
May 10th, 2015 at 11:01 am | No Comments | Posted in Leadership, Liberal Democrats, Uncategorized

So the discussions on who might be the next Lib Dem leader have already begun. Tim Farron has not ruled himself out, whilst Greg Mulholland has apparently. Not sure about Norman Lamb, but the bookies think he is in with a shout. Mind you, given the numbers, they probably all are (in with a shout that is).

Lib Dem Party President, Sal Brinton, has already written to all Lib Dem members (Friday) telling them that “The Federal Executive meets for the first time tomorrow afternoon to consider the timescales” for the leadership election.

Just to be clear, 28 or so Lib Dems will have sat down in a room somewhere yesterday to work out the “leadership election” process. This may sound ridiculous to outsiders (for crying out loud there are only 7 MPs in the running!) but not to those, like the usually sane Lib Dem Mark Pack, who think this is deadly serious. He has already called for  a “properly contested leadership contest, not a coronation“.

Why? Because “A contest triggers debate and a chance of collectively learning the lessons“. Hmmm…. what the Lib Dems need is yet another post-mortem on why it all went wrong. I don’t think so.

It really doesn’t appear to occur to any of them that this constant navel-gazing which is sending them backwards, not forwards. What did the Lib Dems learn from the lame 2010 GE campaign, the 2011 AV campaign, the (several) Rennard inquiries; the 2014 European elections; the various local council elections? Nothing it would seem, given that the 2015 General Election campaign was every bit as bad as the ludicrous “Yes to Fairer Votes” campaign.

[The truth of the matter is that the Lib Dems never learn, collectively or otherwise, the lessons of any particular failure because they don’t really want to hear the answer – but more of that later today]

Returning to the Leadership Election….

If the remaining eight MPs (assuming they all stay Lib Dems) had anything about them they would dispense with the now meaningless Lib Dem rule book  (which states that any leadership candidate needs 10% of MPs to back them (!) plus the backing of at least 200 party members from at least 20 different local parties). They would  have sat down already and agreed amongst themselves who it will be –  and announced it.

The leader, with the total support of all 8 MPs, would also then tell the 28 person Federal Executive, the 29 person Federal Policy Committee, the 20+ person Federal Conference committee and any other committee found occasionally lurking in the bowels of Lib Dem HQ that in swift order all the current policies/rules books/committees etc will all be put under immediate review with a view to (a) disbanding or (b) drastic pruning. If the Federal party want a conference they can have one, but it won’t be where policy is made. Policy will be made by the 8 accountable MPs, on a system of their own devising, and, in the interests of democracy, put to the membership on a “one member one vote” basis annually. In the Autumn of 2015 the first set of proposals will be put to the membership (on the “one member on vote” system) and include a question on satisfaction with the leader. The rest the leader will sort as he goes on.

I am sure this suggestion will make many Lib Dem’s toes curl at the very idea of by-passing the FE , and making the Federal Policy Committee all but redundant, but surely their time and effort can be redeployed rebuilding the membership of the party. What the remaining Lib Dem MPs – and indeed the wider party membership – surely don’t need is 10 or so committee members for every one MP?

Please someone tell me commonsense will, finally, prevail.


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Last minute reshuffle @DHGOVUK announced…

By Editor
March 27th, 2015 at 2:15 pm | 1 Comment | Posted in Uncategorized

HAT TIP: Simon Clark

Following on from Wednesday’s post, we were nudged to read an excellent and revealing post over at Simon Clark’s Taking Liberties blog.

the subject of the blog is this tweet…

dedicated DH team

For those of you who don’t know the faces in this picture. From left to right they are …

Andrew Black (civil servant) tobacco programme manager at the Department of Health

Deborah Arnott from ASH

Jane Ellison MP (Conservative) and Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Health

Paul Burstow MP (Lib Dem)

Really? When did that re-shuffle happen? Does David Cameron know? Was Jeremy Hunt informed? If we randomly turn up, do we stand a chance of getting a job?

Seriously though….. Surely it is now time for Eric Pickles to sit down with William Shawcross to sort out “charities” that are indivisible from Government departments? Having “charities” that escape all the scrutiny of Government, but are part of the “dedicated team” is surely intolerable?  But that, according to Jane Ellison (current Health Minister), is precisely what we have.

Ps. Not sure when Paul Burstow got promoted to the Department of Health – someone should update his wikipedia entry.

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Lib Dems : All process, but no real plan

By Editor
March 23rd, 2015 at 2:03 pm | No Comments | Posted in Uncategorized

HAT TIP: Dan Hodges has written an interesting article in the Telegraph, identifying that Lib Dem HQ is throwing many Lib Dem seats to the wolves in an effort to “survive” – funneling central money into only those constituencies it deems “winnable”.

The Telegraph article states that hard-headed Lib Dem HQ has ceased funding to a vast raft of seats, employed a US based analytics company to develop a system for micro-targeting key constituencies, and plan to ramp up Nick’s profile massively in the coming weeks. The Lib Dem leader will be “asked to “walk through the flames” one MP apparently warns (not literally, we hope, but who can tell?).

So far so good – although who knows the cost of the US company – in our collective experience they never come cheap. The Lib Dems did need a more rational system to dispersal of the, comparatively, limited money it raises. The old “system” (wide-spread flinging of money across the board) witnessed in previous campaigns was clearly not working. So that is a clear improvement on the past. And putting Nick out front is clearly the right choice. With a lame set of policies he is one of the few assets the party has remaining.

Also to be welcomed is the eventual acknowledgement that the perennial Lib Dem mantra ” It feels good on the doorstep”… is about as reliable as a support bra without the wires.

“A few will try to argue ‘But it feels really good on the doorstep’. We have to explain to them that it may feel like that, but it isn’t like that.”

Shame then, with all this marketing magnificence brought into play, no one thought to spend some time and thought on the actual product. Lame policies, contradictory values and dull assertions that “we are nicer than that lot but more responsible than the other lot” is hardly going to set the world on fire – or win votes for that matter.

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