Next month will mark the second anniversary of the Conservatives 2015 general election victory. Another six months and the Parliament will have reached its half way point. I thought it might be useful to have a quick review as to where the parties are in the various national polls. Mid term is traditionally a difficult period for governments as it is during this period that difficult decisions are being taken and implemented and the polls normally improve for the governing party as the parliament moves toward its close.
As ever with polls I do not think too much store should be given to an individual poll or even 2 or 3. What matters more is the overall trend over several companies and polls. The current situation appears therefore to be the Conservatives in the low 40+% territory, Labour in the mid to late 20% area. The Liberal Democrats who are making a play for the pro EU voters have improved a little in recent months but still poll around the double digit mark. UKIP have fallen back from their previous highs and are now sometimes behind the LibDems.
Lots more detail can be found at UK Polling Report
Credit where credit is due to the Liberal Democrats. After having endured a virtual wipeout in the last general election they have been struggling to secure any attention. With the resignation of Zac Goldsmith who true to his word stood down when the Government said they would back another runway at Heathrow airport the LibDems were presented with a chance. Despite having to overhaul 23000 majority the Constituency was one of the most pro-EU constituencies in the country and therefore fertile territory for the LibDems the most pro-EU party of any in the UK. Added to that Zac stood for re-election as an Independent without the backing of the Conservative Party. In contrast the LibDems through everything at it including the proverbial kitchen sink. No doubt some who had voted Labour last listed the best chance of beating Zac was to vote for the LibDems and no doubt some pro-EU Conservatives without an official Conservative to vote for used the opportunity to vote LibDem. But just as one swallow does not make a summer, one by-election win does not mean the LibDems have suddenly become a major force on the British political scene. Few constituencies will present the alignment of fortuitous circumstances that Richmond Park did. Most voters still want to see the UK leave the EU as soon as possible. The main criticism I hear is that people want to see the process speeded up not slowed down or reversed. The good news for them is that by-election result will change nothing. Heathrow expansion will go ahead and the UK will still be leaving the EU.
The Prime Minister heads to China today for the first of what will no doubt be the first of many international summits of World leaders. I expect the other Leaders will be as interested to meet Mrs May as she will them. Reports are that she will have meetings with President Xi of the hosts China, Russian President Putin and President Obama. As this is Theresa May’s first G20 summit it will be one of the last for the US President as he prepares to step down in January. Theresa May will be stressing that notwithstanding the UK’s decision to leave the European Union we are still very much open for business and a major player on the World stage.
I am attending what is being billed as the first ever Conference of Greater Manchester COnservatives today which will be interesting. I will report tomorrow on what was discussed.
I cannot understand why there is so much concern at the threat being made by some in France to tear up the Le Touquet Agreement which allows the U.K. to have border checks in France. The thousands camped in the so called Jungle outside Calais are not genuine asylum seekers. If they were genuinely fleeing persecution in fear of their lives they would seek asylum in the first safe country they reached and indeed that is what the rules require. They are economic migrants seeking a better life and who can blame them for that. I think we should tell the French that if they change the current arrangements all those arriving from France will be immediately deported back to France and they will not be allowed to make asylum claims in the UK. The Calais Jungle is a problem for France and France should deal with it.
Ahead of the EU referendum Remain claimed the economy would hit all sorts of troubles if we voted to leave. I was particularly interested therefore to see this week that the official figures for consumer spending in the April to June quarter rose by 0.9%. The Office for National Statistics estimates the economy grew at 0.6% overall in the second quarter. The figures for retail sales in July showed a growth of 5.9% compared to July 2015. Only one month and it would be unrealistic to expect that level of growth to continue but it provides a boost for retailers and is some evidence of the confidence consumers have. We need Companies to demonstrate similar confidence in the future when it comes to investment decisions.
Of course, I expect there will be downturns in the future. Leaving the EU will not prevent the UK from being affected by slowdowns elsewhere in the World. What matters is that the UK does all it can to take maximum advantage of the freedom it will have to negotiate new trade deals with Countries around the World to make it easier for our exporters.
The government have already made it clear that she of the revenue from the use of shale gas should go directly to support the areas most directly affected by the drilling of wells. The principle that the areas bearing most of the disruption and inconvenience for the sake of the national good should benefit the most is a good one. I have always been concerned that where the cash is paid to local Councils it should be spent to benefit the areas most directly affected and not spent on other areas miles away. Now there are proposals that the cash should be paid directly to the households in the areas most affected which seems to me a great way of ensuring the people most inconvenienced benefit the most.
In just one month the Conservative Party have elected a new Leader and have a completely new team at the top. It has all happened with astonishing speed and with ruthless efficiency and a competency that I know many Labour MP’s quietly admire. The decisiveness shown by the Conservatives is in stark contrast to the current Labour Party leadership crisis. For a start it is less than a year since Labour elected a new Leader. Now that very same Leader has by a huge margin lost a vote of no confidence held by the Parliamentary Labour Party and a challenger has appeared who I suspect very few people in the Country have ever heard of. One of the themes of the last election was Conservative competence contrasted against chaos under Labour. Even with Labour in opposition that contrast is being proved to be right.