Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Crewe and Nantwich

Despite the recruitment of Tamsin Dunwoody as the Labour candidate (already being portrayed as a Brown clone), the Conservatives must be odds on favourites to win the Crewe and Nantwich by-election. The Conservatives are pouring substantial resources into the fight and Dave Cameron was seen on television last night rather awkwardly evading a voter's question about whether he would restore the 10p tax band if he was in charge.

Of course, he couldn't without wiping out the standard rate tax cut, even though in my view that was a mistake in the first place. This issue continues to fester away for Labour with the proposed 'compensation' necessarily being portrayed as inadequate given that there is no money left in the coffers to pay for it.

The word from the Conservatives is that losing this seat would be a 'killer blow' for Brown. This strikes me as a bit odd given that in the Wilson and Callaghan governments the Government losing a by-election in mid-term contests was a routine event, even rock hard Labour seats such as Ashfield succumbing to Mrs Thatcher's onslaught (much to the surprise of the Conservative victor who subsequently slipped into obscurity). Most of these seats werwe won back at the subsequent general election, although Liberal Democrat victors are generally better at holding on to their conquests.

But supposing Brown went, would that help the Conservatives? Surely better for them for him to remain in office as a perceived weak and ineffective leader of a divided party? Public rhetoric aside, no doubt they have worked that out for themselves. But it might encourage union leaders, petrol protesters and the like to have a go at the Government.

Like any Government that has been in office for a long time, the Government is starting to look exhausted. It is running out of ideas and any new initiatives are open to the charge 'why haven't you done that before now?' The Conservatives propose to unveil one policy at a time in a kind of strip tease, but at some point people are going to ask for a clearer idea of what Dave is going to do when he is in charge.


Justin Greaves said...

Of course, reintroducing the 10% rate would be too expensive and is probably not the best way to deal with poverty. But how about a quite considerable increase in the personal allowance phased in over the 5 years of a Cameron government, offset by increased environmental taxes carefully targeted so they don't harm those on low earnings? I really think Dave lacks credibility on the 10P issue as he is unable to state what he would do. The overall tax burden in Britain is now probably too high but this can't be dealt with until the budget deficit is reduced - which is probably several years work in itself.

Wyn Grant said...

That could be a way forward, although increases in the personal allowance benefit all taxpayers, including those on the higher rate - although there are ways of offsetting that. Many environmental taxes would hit those on low earnings.

Vcb said...

is today's reclassification of cannabis a desperate dash for the small c ground?

You bring up the point about governments looking tired after so long. My question is, given the nature of political and business cycles, why did Brown still go for the top job after Labour had been in power for 10 years? Falling out of favour was entirely predictable, and economic downturn not unlikely. I can not imagine how the ego can recover if he manages a couple years and electoral defeat and his rival managed 10 years of power, 3 general election successes with a mansion and a cushti job to show for it.

If only he'd had the foresight to see the American recession on the horizon, called the snap election in his honeymoon period and taken a slightly reduced majority as a cost of securing the next parliamentary term.

Who was your man who said all political careers end in failure? What a fall this will be. Can't even rely on his "most successful chancellor" tag now. I'm too young to know what other falls it can be compared to. Thoughts?

thanks for the good mark by the way.

Wyn Grant said...

Most politicians would like to get the top job if they can and I guess that even Sir Alec Douglas-Home enjoyed having it for a not very successful year - and he went on to serve as Foreign Secretary. I think only Ted Heath adjusted with bitterness to losing office. Perhaps with hindsight he should have called a snap election, but I do not think that his lead was by any means secure. Enoch Powell was the person who said that all political careers end in failure. The immediate comparison that comes to mind was Sir Anthony Eden (after whom a road in Leamington has now been named) who was kept waiting for years as No.2 by Sir Winston Churchill and then saw his career end in failure over the Suez fiasco. Perhaps better a failed No.1 rather than a No.2 who never makes it like Rab Butler who failed on two occasions.