Posts Tagged ‘fuel crisis’

Labour’s poll lead is slipping again. Here’s why

10/12/2013, 12:28:22 PM

by Atul Hatwal

In a momentous week for news, one development has understandably slipped by without major comment: the shift in the polls since the Autumn Statement.

The Sunday Times YouGov poll had Labour’s lead at 5 points, today’s Sun YouGov poll similarly has the lead at 5 points and today’s ICM poll in the Guardian also registers a lead of 5. In comparison, the average YouGov lead in the week before the Autumn Statement was 8 while the November’s ICM poll also had Labour 8 points up.

A drop of 3 points in Labour’s lead, across 3 different polls suggests something has changed since the Autumn Statement.

Although caution is advisable given it is just a week’s polling, this shift has been expected by many and if confirmed in the coming weeks, will presage significant problems for the party.

In the two months since Ed Miliband’s conference speech, politics has been defined by Labour’s energy price freeze commitment.

Regardless of the economics, it has been politically successful in driving debate within the Westminster bubble. Countless column inches and interview minutes have been expended on the fall-out from the announcement. So much so that politics became polarised around support or opposition to the price freeze.

And this is part of the problem.

Labour’s year long slide in the polls appeared to have been arrested in October and November, but the profile of the price freeze has been such that the polls in these months virtually became referendums on whether action should be taken to reduce energy prices rather than predictions of voting at the next election.

The shift in the polls over the past week suggests the impact of the energy price freeze is now diminishing.

There is a precedent for this type of development.

In September 2000, for one month, politics was turned upside down. William Hague’s Conservative opposition reversed months of double digit ICM poll deficits to leap into a 4 point lead. The cause was the fuel crisis.


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A question of competence

19/04/2012, 10:00:21 AM

by Pat Mcfadden

For most of the period since the election, the government has been pretty successful at setting the agenda, particularly around the central question of tax and spend.

The spending cuts they have put through, they argue, are done more in sorrow than in anger and although these are tough decisions it’s really all Labour’s fault for letting things get out of hand.  This has been the dominant narrative.  Labour’s counter argument that the growth of the deficit was a necessary (and internationally replicated) step to stop recession turning into depression has struggled to be heard.

That was the framework of UK politics until recently.  But something has changed.  I don’t believe this is the politics of specific measures like the granny tax or the pasty tax.  There have been plenty other individual measures people have disliked in the past two years but they have been largely accepted because of the acceptance of the dominant political narrative.

What has changed is the public’s judgement about the government’s competence.  In other words, the key change is no single measure but rather the different lens through which the government is now seen.  Put bluntly, people will forgive a government a lot of unpopular measures if they think the government knows’ what it’s doing.  They will be a lot less forgiving if they think they don’t.

The key break point was petrol.

Whatever the outcome of the current negotiations in the drivers’ dispute, the queues outside filling stations a couple of weeks ago were unnecessary and dangerous.  I don’t know if the government whipped this up because they wanted a strike story or because of “genuine” incompetence but it doesn’t really matter.  The public know that the government screwed up.

There was no need to tell people to rush to the filling station, and certainly no need for the stuff about jerry cans.  No strike had been called and seven days’ notice is required anyway.  Petrol delivery and use is a very delicate just-in-time process.  We are highly dependent on it and essentially, the nation’s fuel stock is in the tanks of our cars.  Any unnecessary upset in that system is irresponsible and dangerous.  Better and safer advice would have been to store stamps in jerry cans.

This petrol screw up has changed the way the public are looking at other decisions.  The government is losing the benefit of the doubt on the budget issues around pensioners’ taxes and VAT on hot food.  Suddenly they look more vulnerable.  For the first time in two years, Labour has an opening.  Of course it remains to be seen whether we can take advantage of it, but the opening is there.

The importance of this competence question should not be underestimated.  People are less ideological than most politicians think.  They will often believe in some things advocated traditionally by one party and some other things advocated traditionally by another.  Of course in the end it’s a choice on a package of these.  But whatever the ideology of a government, the voting public expects them to know what they’re doing.  For the first time since the election, that is now in doubt.

Pat McFadden is Labour MP for Wolverhampton South East.

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Revealed: Secret ministerial transport memo

01/04/2012, 08:00:53 AM

by Kevin Meagher

Labour Uncut can reveal the existence of a secret government contingency plan to transport ministers to meetings around Whitehall in the event of a fuel shortage.

Ministerial cars will be mothballed for the duration of any fuel strike in order to show “we’re all in this together”. Instead ministers who need them will shuttle between appointments across Whitehall by… sedan chair.

The novel idea, brainchild of Chancellor George Osborne, will see unemployed young people specially trained to carry ministers around. The ability to carry a sedan chair may also be used as a means of qualifying for DLA in a tightened ‘fitness to work’ test.

According to a leaked memo entitled: ‘Contingency Ministerial Transportation: Safari Old Ploy’, Ministers will be carried around as if they were on safari. “It is important” the memo says “that we do not give rise to the impression that ministers are behaving like Roman emperors.”

The original plan was for rickshaws, but Osborne vetoed this move, claiming they would need a road fund license. Also, it is believed the Chancellor in fact has his own sedan chair, which he is eager to use in public.


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