22 May 2009

Expensesgate: the political fallout

  • More than 2 weeks into the Telegraph's expenses scandal, and I'm still riveted by it. I can understand that many people will be bored stiff by the whole thing, but it may still be that some of the best is yet to come.

For example, Tory MP Anthony Steen spectacularly misjudged the public mood by saying that the only reason people were angry was because they were jealous of his big house, and that Freedom of Information legislation had been a Very Bad Thing because it had fed public envy. He seemed to have conveniently forgotten that these bastard taxpayers were paying for his goddamn trees to be maintained. Pay the piper, call the tune.

Sir Peter Viggers (why are they giving honours to wankers like this)'s floating duck island was also a rare moment of high comedy. Well done mate.

But it's not clear yet to what extent Expensesgate will manifest itself in changes to voting intentions. The latest ICM survey in the Guardian compares European election voting intentions with the results in 2004. Some noteworthy findings are:

  • Labour on 24%, 1% above its 2004 polling.
  • Greens at 9%, up from 6% in 2004.
  • UKIP on 10%, down from 16% in 2004. If these figures are right, reports of a big swing to UKIP are simply wrong.
  • BNP on 1%, down from 4% in 2004.
I'm not sure I believe that BNP result - it's highly likely that they are up at about 10% (say) and people are too embarrassed to admit to pollsters that they're voting for them. So as well as being fascist tossers, BNP voters are cowards as well. Quelle surprise.

These poll results don't indicate a seismic shift in voting intentions though, especially bearing in mind that the Euro elections are much more likely to attract a protest vote than a Westminster election. If the Tories and Labour were both down below 20% then we would begin to see some interesting gains for minor parties, even under first-past-the-post. But, unless there is a wave of independent Martin Bell-type challengers (certainly possible), the expenses scandal is not on course to upset the Westminster applecart - yet. For that to happen, public outrage has to translate to much bigger shifts in voting intentions.


Chris Brooke said...

Yes - I'm continuing to enjoy it, too. The Telegraph's Google earth grabs to illustrate roof repairs and moats were excellent, and the stuff on duck islands belongs squarely in the "adds to the gaiety of the nation" category.

Van Patten said...

It is quite comical in all fairness. I'm not sure the ICM poll is the most reliable as it seems to only take in areas where there are a significant percentage of Guardian readers. Hence them getting the London mayoral elections so spectacularly wrong (Failing to realise there are 32, rather than 10 boroughs in London's electoral map, some of which (ie Bromley) voted more than 90% for Johnson)Similarly, the BNP is likely to pick up around 25 to 30% of the vote in some wards, such as Thurrock (just down the road from you - when are you planning your next trip to Lakeside?)or Barking. I for one do not believe the Greens are likely to poll 9%.

As you say, I think there is some stigma attached to the declaration of intention to vote BNP, partly because of the fury that any expression of concern over the sustainability of current immigration levels brings from those 'opinion formers' on the hard left such as yourself. It's also possible that UKIP has fizzled out, a development which would have far greater consequences as it seems likely to indicate that Westminster politics would be even more irrelevant than the last Queen's speech would seem to indicate, and that the people would not at all be concerned at this development.

Let's hope for a Tory victory, UKIP second or third and yes, even the BNP in the top five, as it might give some indication that the Ultra leftist policies of the last decade are what has brought us to this sorry pass, and that the people have finally siad 'enough is enough - give us our money back!' (or to paraphrase the 2001 election campaign, 'I've paid the taxes, so where are the police,schools, refuse collection ...indeed any public service whatsoever?')

giroscoper said...

"BNP in the top five"...?! You have fallen off the cliff this time son.

Van Patten said...

God help us if the Greens poll 9%! If the BNP do gain 5th in the poll, it might raise some awareness of some of the issues affecting the lower paid which unlimited migration causes, as well as forcing examination of the relationship with the EU which permits this to happen. You don't have to approve of the policies to realise they're tapping into valid concerns which cannot be airily (and contemptuously) dismissed as 'racism' as you have done in both posts.

giroscoper said...

"God help us if the Greens get 9%" - you're absolutely right, we'd be better if they got 99%. We really do need that "red-green" option to sort things out after the disastrous quasi-Tory regime of New Labour!