It seems that my decision in 2012 to renew my Conservative membership was right. The party is headed in the right direction and David Cameron has a good chance of remaining PM at the next General Election due in 2015 if he sticks on his current course and is strong-willed in the image of the late Baroness Thatcher.
There can be no doubt that UKIP is a serious threat to the Conservative Party and to its chances at the next election. Even with dire Red Ed Milifoot in charge of Labour – so the polls confirm – Labour will win the 2015 election outright as the Conservatives suffer from a combination of a UKIP surge and the Liberal Democrats’ puny failure last year to agree to boundary changes.
The world has been watching Britain as it has struggled between the ideas of a completely free press – such as in the US – and one where the press is regulated to the point where a recent phone hacking scandal and other press misbehaviour does not repeat itself ever again.
The Lib Dem’s candidate, Mike Thornton, won Eastleigh by-election on February 28th, Thursday, by a scant margin of 1,771 votes against Conservative’s nominee, Maria Hutchings, who placed third, and UKIP’s Diane James, after a voting surge, finished second, while Labour’s candidate, John O’Farrell, landed in the fourth place.
UK The Eastleigh by-election on February 28th resulted to UKIP garnering 28% of the total votes, 4% behind Lib Dems who won the race, but pushed the Tories to third place by a 3% margin.
The outcome of UKIP’s performance proved detrimental to all main parties concerned, but in all probability affected the Tories most. Ukip did better in Eastleigh than in any prior parliamentary elections, and that should be kept in perspective in future by-elections.
By-elections are the best venues for protest parties. Voters with issue grievances could shift their allegiance to another party without fear of severe repercussion relevant to political clouts, and with the Lib Dems in government, UKIP is the obvious choice for protest voters, The Guardian reported on March 1st.
Nigel Farage, UKIP leader, said “The party had really connected with voters because we’re talking about issues the other parties would prefer to brush under the carpet, as reported.
Farage, still vexed with the PM over his description of UKIPs as “loonies”, stated “David Cameron is going to be pissed off. Traditional Tory voters in this constituency don’t believe he’s a Conservative, that’s why he’s done badly”.
Geoff Bulleyment, 79, a retired Royal Marine, concurred saying “I’d always been a Conservative until about three years ago. David Cameron is not a Conservative but a social democrat, a Lib Dem. The big local issue here is unemployment which he failed to address”.
Eastleigh was the first electoral test for the PM since he tried to neutralize the UKIP threat, when he pledged to hold an in/out referendum on Britain’s membership with the EU, and the outcome was rather unfortunate for the Tories.
Eastleigh was one of the 20 Lib Dem seats cited by Grant Shapps, the Tory chairman, essential to his party’s victory at the next general election, and since its creation in 1955, the Tories never won a general election without winning Eastleigh, The Guardian reported.
UK A local official who just renewed her membership with the Conservative Party a week back, left her post, The Telegraph reported on Feb. 24th, Sunday.
UK George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer since May 12, 2010, following the loss of the country’s AAA credit rating, said the country needs to address its debt problem. He pledged to pursue his plan to cut the UK’s deficit and likewise further reduce tax for businesses, as reported by the Telegraph on February 23rd, Saturday.
Moody’s, the credit rating agency, which downgraded the UK one notch to Aa1 on February 22nd, Friday, pointed to “subdued” growth prospects and a “high and rising debt burden”, and expects the “period of sluggish growth to extend into the second half of the decade”, as reported on February 25th, Monday.
Credit ratings assess a government’s capability to repay its loans and instrumental to determine the interest rate to be applied on borrowings.
Osborne, facing calls from Labour to resign from his post, was forced to issue a statement saying “We will continue on the economic plan that has brought the deficit down by a quarter and the government will now re-double its efforts to overcome its debt”.
He accused Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor, of being the “architect of the mistakes that gave Britain its debt problem”.
Ed Balls, describing the Moody’s downgrade as a humiliation for the government, retaliated by saying “Osborne made maintaining the AAA rating a key benchmark for his stewardship of the economy, but failed in the first economic test he set himself”.
Osborne is expected to utilize next month’s budget to assist hard-pressed businesses and further government cuts to be implemented, report said.
The main rate of corporation tax will be further reduced from 21p, the special rate for smaller enterprises would be decreased from its present level of 20p, and Osborne aims to achieve at least L.10 billion extra savings from welfare spending in 2015 – 16, the Telegraph reported.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for Prime Minister David Cameron, despite the downgrade, has insisted that “The government’s economy plan is working that is why we believe the economy is healing”.
In an interview at BBC1's The Andrew Marr Show, former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair announced his support of Cameron's approach on terrorism in North Africa. He said: "It's going to be long and difficult and messy. If you don't intervene, it's also going to be long and difficult and messy and possibly a lot worse." He added that as leader of a nation it is extremely difficult to make decisions that are not very popular with the public.
Blair also admitted that he talks to Cameron and Miliband regarding the future of the country and gives advice to them when asked for his opinion. However, though Tony Blair supports Cameron on his decision regarding North Africa, he did not mince his words when it came to Cameron's nuances of leaving EU.
Regarding Ed Miliband, the ex-Prime Minister said that for the new Labour leader to win in the upcoming elections he would need to come up with new policies that will convert votes in the next 11 months. He said: "I don't think there's a problem with the vision. I think there's a big challenge with how you translate that vision into practical policy," and added, “This is a situation where the economy is very tough, where we’re going to face the situation – whoever’s in government – where they’re going to be very constrained."
He even advised Miliband to not stray away from his forward-looking philosophy, lose his modern approach to things nor shift from the centre ground of politics, for these play a key role in winning the elections.
He also pointed out that it is simply not enough to ‘protect the vulnerable’ but the party needs to be more resolute with their stance when it comes to embracing controversial reforms of hospital, schools and other public services.
UK: Rumors of an impending endorsement assails Westminster as a plan to demand a leadership contest is being hatched allegedly by 55 Tory MPs in case Prime Minister Cameron continues to trail behind Ed Miliband, Labour’s leader, in the polls. To initiate a vote of no confidence, only 46 MPs are required to write their intent to the Party’s 1922 committee, as reported. Just a week ago, Cameron secured his highest approval rating, since June 2011, as reported by ComRes survey.
Adam Afriyie, 47-year-old British Conservative Party politician since 1990, Member of the Parliament (MP) for Windsor and dubbed as Britain’s Obama, was accused of fomenting oust of the PM.
It was revealed that multi-millionaire IT tycoon Afriyie, should their alleged plan materialize, is set to make his bid for the position once vacated, according to The Mail on January 27th, Sunday.
The information was disclosed by two Tory MPs who were asked to sign endorsing Afriyie as a leadership contender in the event the PM was forced to resign, The Mail said.
40 MPs already signed, as claimed by one of the MP, but Afriyie’s allies denied the existence of the said letter, The Mail added.
News of the unprecedented move enraged the PM’s supporters who said “It is sheer madness to talk about a leadership challenge at this time our Party is at a precarious situation in winning the next election. We have to rally behind Cameron and not plot against him”.
Tory MP Mark Field, the outspoken ally of Afriyie, confirmed having discussed leadership credentials of Afriyie with other Tory MPs and said Britain’s Obama will only take the helm if the PM lost the next election and resigned as a Conservative leader.
Other Tories claimed that Field’s move to win support for Afriyie is a prelude for an alleged coup by MP rebels before the election.
Afriyie, frustrated at failing to be appointed a minister, denied the plan for a leadership bid and told The Mail on Sunday, January 27th “I supported the PM to become a leader, I love him and wish for him to be leader for the next 20 years. This is a naughty conversation and I’m ending it now”.
“David Cameron is Prime Minister and the media is diverting the attention away from the promised referendum”, as he stated in an email sent on Feb. 1st, Friday.
However, the mentioned endorsement and MP Field canvassing for supports are factors the PM and his supporters cannot ignore.
Up to 17 Tory MPs were believed to have asked for a no confidence vote, but only one, Patrick Mercer, was named, and claims that an unnamed “coordinating MP” already acquired pledges.
UK: George Osborne, nee George Gideon Oliver Osborne, 41-year-old British Conservative politician, is a Member of Parliament for Tatton since 2001, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and Second Lord of the Treasury since May 2010.
Upon his assumption of office, Osborne set-up an austerity plan through a deficit-reduction program with the objective that the total public debt would be falling as a fraction of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2015 – 16.
He also commissioned a government-wide spending review which concluded in the autumn of 2010, aimed to restrict departmental spending until 2014 – 15.
However, criticism on Osborne’s pursuance of his austerity plan amid signs of economic stagnation escalated.
Jim O’Neill, the chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management, recently joined the critics and aired his warning that an alternative option is required if the original plan failed to achieve the desired result, in referral to the austerity plan, and commented that “Osborne should recognize the failure of his plan, and measures to change economic policy must be undertaken to prevent triple-dip recession”, as told to the BBC.
The country’s economy suffered a setback in the last quarter of 2012, based on figures revealed on January 25th, Friday, and repetition of the same in the first quarter of 2013 would tantamount to Britain’s recession for the third time since the economic crash of 2008.
Moreover, the government’s insistence that the only available course in its policy of cutting expenditure was contradicted and that the absence of growth increases the deficit rather than curtail it, according to critics.
Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor, said “The longer David Cameron and George Osborne adhere to their inadequate plan, the more long-term damage will ensue”, and he further stated that now is the time to implement new measures to promote growth through cuts to VAT and spending on infrastructure.
But Osborne, despite remarks from his critics, was not easily detracted and defiantly confirmed his intention of confronting the problem rather than shy from it.
He told Sky News at the recent annual World Economic Forum held at the Swiss ski resort of Davos that “I am absolutely certain that we have the right plan though it will not deliver results overnight. We emphasized from the start that it will be a long and hard road, but it was the only road to take”.