Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Crowd Sourcing Opinion v Commentariat Opinion

Mindtracker
Until now we have had no way of knowing what the public really think of the party leaders performance. Instead, the members of the commentariat simply form their insider consensus, unsupported by anything other than their own shared metropolitan prejudices.

For example, the current consensus among the pundits is that it’s not a good idea for Cameron to get angry with Brown. “Too much like Flashman” think the hacks. But lots of voters are angry as hell at the PM and want to see him get a great big slap in the face (hence the popularity in Dan Hannan’s viral video in which he gave the PM the full hairdryer treatment).

Are the pundits right? What do swing voters actually think? At the moment that knowledge isn’t available to anyone unless they have pots of cash to spend. In the U.S. Frank Luntz charges corporate clients a small fortune to run dial groups (as seen on Newsnight) which capture exactly how voters feel about what politicians are saying. If you have the money, the effect of every word and weird facial expression can be measured precisely.

Now that technology is about to be democratised… it is time to cut out Sir Michael White and find out what voters actually think.  Let the crowd-sourced experiment begin – click here or on the button above and you will be able to record your responses blow-by-blow to today’s PMQs clash.  We’ll have the results back later…

PMQs Live-Chat : G8 Edition

Jonah’s Sticky Wicket: Plea to Lobby Hacks from Cricket Fans

cricket

Mrs Fawkes will, Guido suspects, be cheering for Australia, her husband doesn’t have a dog in the Ashes fight.  So this plea is made at the heartfelt request of many English co-conspirators: can hacks please refrain from asking the PMS at this morning’s Lobby briefing if the Prime Mentalist is backing the English cricket team?  The players have a difficult enough challenge ahead of them without the Jonah jinx on their backs as well.  We really, really don’t need to know what Wacko Jocko thinks of the English cricket team…

Wencher Drencher Dripping with Sarcasm

The “Romsey Redhead”, Sandra Gidley MP claimed £50,000 more in expenses than her neighbouring Hampshire MP.  For some reason she seems to resent the new rules on making full declarations about payments in kind, judging by the sarky piece on her blog about her latest declaration:

gidleyI was asked to spend some time on the “wencher drencher” for charity. The event – on 5th July – was organised by the Rotary Club of Romsey Test and total work time was approximately 25 minutes. This consisted of 5 minutes to get changed. 15 minutes sitting on the device, waiting for people to hit a target and then getting tipped into water a number of times and 10 minutes drying off and getting changed afterwards. A gentleman presented me with a punnet of strawberries (value £1.50) for my efforts but I am afraid it would have seemed rather rude to ask his full name and address so I didn’t.

Pictures would have been appreciated.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Mandy Extends Willy, Metaphorically

Jonathan Djanogly’s Agent Resigns Ahead of Constituency Meeting

All is not well in the Huntingdon Conservative Association. The agent for Jonathan Djanogly MP, Sir Peter Brown, has just resigned saying in his letter of resignation:

Jonathan Djanogly MP“I have served the Party professionally for 42 years, nearly 25 of which have been in the Huntingdon Constituency. There have been momentous times, not least working with a British Prime Minister whose service to the Country and his Constituency were exemplary. The strength and depth of the Association has been of great pride and joy to me personally. As for the future, I intend to serve my four year term representing the Huntingdon Division on Cambridgeshire County Council. This will be my sole aspect of political work.”

Not incredibly hard to read between the lines here when you know that Djanogly faces a constituency meeting on Thursday where his expenses will come under scrutiny.  Constituency sources say that despite the MP paying £25,000 back to the fees office, Sir Peter was unwilling to publicly support Djanogly, so he resigned as his agent.

Some of the focus is on the cash claimed – without receipts – for a cleaner, allegedly that cash went to an au pair.   The Thursday meeting is open only to paid up local Tory members.

Tory Bill Wiggin’s meeting with angry voters was “open to all” or was it?  Either way it didn’t go to plan:

Lords Savage Brown’s YouTubed Parliamentary Standards Bill

The House of Lords Select Committee on the Constitution report on the Parliamentary Standards Bill was out yesterday, and they didn’t pull their punches:

Download the BillWe are particularly concerned by the hasty manner in which policy-making has taken place, with negligible public consultation, and the subsequent ‘fast-tracking’ through Parliament of a bill which will have major constitutional implications… the bill is the product of a desire to respond to a demand to see something done, as the Government put it, rather than the outcome of a law-making process suitable for a bill with serious constitutional repercussions… The bill will accordingly have to be substantially recast. To do so under an accelerated passage is in our view wholly unacceptable given the questions of constitutional principle and detail that it raises… We are wholly unpersuaded by the Government’s case for this bill to be fast-tracked. There is an undoubted need to restore public confidence in the parliamentary system. It is not, however, clear to us that a cobbled together bill rushed through Parliament will help rebuild public trust; on the contrary, if Parliament cannot be seen to be scrutinising proposals with the thoroughness they deserve, public confidence in parliamentarians is likely to be further undermined. Governments should find the strength to resist falling into a temptation simply to see something done, which is no substitute for properly prepared policy and legislation.

Brown is BonkersAs the Lords say, it is a hastily cobbled together rush to “do something” – the wrong thing.  The report diplomatically describes the Prime Mentalist’s expenses announcement on YouTube as “constitutionally unorthodox”.  Stark raving mad would be many of his own backbenchers description.  The Kelly inquiry into MPs’ expenses from the Committee on Standards in Public Life won’t report back until the autumn.  It is carrying out wide public consultations.   This fast-tracked Bill is like something out of Alice in Wonderland, just as the Queen wanted ‘sentence first – verdict afterwards’, Gordon in Blunderland wants ‘legislation first, consideration afterwards’Bonkers.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Tories Propose 17 New Quangos

David Cameron has just held a press conference where he told the assembled hacks

“it would be far too simplistic for me to stand here and announce some kind of ‘Bonfire of the Quangos.’ People have heard that kind of talk many times before, and seen little to show for it. Instead, we need a more sophisticated approach. Yes we need to reduce the number, size, scope and influence of quangos…”

Well here are 17 quangos the Tories have proposed:

1. Office of Tax Simplification
2. Office of Budget Responsibility
3. Free national financial advice service
4. ‘Sports Commission’ (Australian model)
5. Office for Civil Society
6. Social Investment Bank
7. Skills advisory service for service personnel
8. Service for families of departing armed forces personnel
9. Military inquest family advisory service
10. International Aid Watchdog
11. Innovative Projects Agency
12. National Foundation for STEM
13. HealthWatch
14. Defence Export Services Organisation
15. All Age Careers Service
16. Voluntary Action Lottery Fund
17. A ‘development agency for libraries’

Source : Labour Party press office.

Andrew Neil gave Phil Hammond a roughing up this morning on the Daily Politics (2 mins 40 secs in):

Even Nick Robinson is dissecting the internal contradictions of Cameroon quango reformism versus Thatcherite quango burning.  The Tories of course propose to create the biggest quango in history – the Independent NHS Board…

+++ Swine Flu in the Treasury +++

swine fluThe HM Treasury intranet has just flashed up a warning that they have identified a  staff member with a suspected case of Swine Flu. 

Not to be confused with the economic forecasts of flying pigs…

LabourList : Balls Should Stop Lying About Cuts

When Ed Ball’s said he hardly knew “Mr McBride” how we all laughed, the Daily Telegraph’s then newly appointed chief political commentator, Ben Brogan, put the widely held view succintly: liar liar, pants on fire.

Mr10%

Balls is now disowning his “Tory Cuts, Labour Invests” strategy, briefing that the whole idea is down to that no good Shaun Woodward.   Yet it was under his own name that a circular went out to Labour activists attacking Cameron as “Mr 10% Cuts”.  When Fraser Nelson called Blinky a liar about Labour’s own cuts, Balls went bonkers, telling Nelson to withdraw the article and calling his Spectator editor, Matthew d’Ancona, to rant about the article.

BlinkyGod knows how he will respond to the LabourList article calling on him to drop the dishonest “Tories cut, Labour invests” mantra. Written by Brian Barder, who has been a Labour Party member for half-a-century, it is hyper-critical of the Balls line of attack, calling it dishonest and ham-fisted:

Labour promises actually to increase government spending, appear both dishonest and, perhaps worse, obviously and simple-mindedly dishonest.  This ham-fisted campaign is a tragedy for Labour… In … the disastrous circular, I suggested … the current line [is] depriving the government and the party of a different and much more positive line which would have the incidental advantages of being both truthful and credible…

Ouch. Ed Balls wrote for LabourList only last week about discrimination in the playground. He’ll be throwing his toys out of the pram this morning…


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