Sunday, January 31

Stiff opposition for Yarmouth Tories

Great Yarmouth's reckoned to be a pivotal seat in the scheme of things - if the Tories win there and the swing required is repeated nationally, they'll win with a majority.

Local candidate Brandon Lewis is clearly expecting some stiff opposition, according to this blog snippet:Brandon says his blog was hacked:
"My Blog has been hacked into and spam has been put on it, apologies to anyone who has had tweets (they are linked to my Blog) or odd Blog entries about IT.

"It looks like the only way to solve this will be to close my Blog, apologies and if we can end this problem without shutting the Blog down we will."
Whoever can be behind it..?

Friday, January 29

Poll points to hung parliament, while Dave dithers in Davos

Turnips will draw little heart from the latest Ipsos-Mori poll shows an 8% lead, with Labour gaining and the Townies and Lib Dems both losing ground.

Heading into hung parliament territory, according to a brief post on ConservativeHome.

Scary stuff if it means a deal with the Liberals.

Guido Fawkes makes an interesting observation over Cameron's insistence his chat with media movers and shakers in Davos was off-record:

"At best it is evidence of the contempt in which the public is held by the political elite, at worst it is an admission that Cameron’s private views are different from his public positions."

And we know all about that contempt up here in Talibland, don't we.

So is May 6th Election Day..?

So Thursday, May 6th looks like being election day, if you believe the Daily Mail.

An interesting bun fight all round in Turnip Talibland, with the South West Norfolk count taking place the following day at King's Lynn Corn Exchange, running parallel with the North West Norfolk count.

Interaction between the two Tory candidates and their respective supporters could well be interesting to observe.

Saturday, January 23

Norfolk Unitary Council - the end of the road

Looks like shadow local government minister Bob Neil's fired the final salvo in the long-running debate over whether Norfolk would be better served by a single unitary council.

"The Government looks set to announce that it will abolish entire tiers of local government in Conservative-controlled Devon, Suffolk and Norfolk: not because it is the right thing to do, but to try and create division amongst Conservatives in the run-up to a general election and erode our local government base, which is obviously something they have conspicuously failed to do through the ballot box in the last thirteen years. There is no other explanation behind this devious plan as there is certainly no public demand for unitary government in these counties."

Many will have suspected the same all along. Mr Neil goes on to give an assurance which will see many heaving a sigh of relief today:

"But today I can go further and say that because this round of restructuring is so contrary to our desire to give more power to local communities any incoming Conservative Government will revoke any legislation and stop the entire process straight away."
So that's that then. Well, let's hope so. All the Tories have to do now is win the election.

Full post here.

Thursday, January 21

What's the story, moaning Tory..?

Iain Dale bemoans the lack of live election counts on his blog. As far as Norfolk's concerned, just North Norfolk and Norwich South plan to begin the count after the polls close - though many elsewhere have yet to declare their intentions, according to the official list.

"The longer a count is delayed, the more opportunity there is for mischief," he says. "Local authority chief executives, who double as returning officers get paid a handsome bonus for conducting elections. I seem to remember it is in the region of £10,000. They should get off their fat arses and sort this, before it is sorted for them."

Having a pop at the civil servants might seem fair enough. But the reason counts are being delayed is to save money.

Didn't the majority of politicos responding to a survey on the likely outcome of a new Tory administration's first 100 days on conservativehome plump for an emergency budget..?

And aren't we missing the issue which is dividing the grass-roots - ie will there/won't there be elections for a single unitary authority for Norfolk included in the mix..?

Maybe that's why Yarmouth's returning officer says they'll count on the night if there aren't also local elections.

Sunday, January 17

Massive election news for Norfolk, perhaps

Conservative high command has given its strongest commitment yet that a David Cameron-led government would torpedo any council overhaul in Norfolk and Suffolk, according to the EDP.

This is welcome news if true. While there will be those who mourn the "millions poured down the drain", the proposed single unitary authority would cost us far more in terms of lost local democracy and dwindling resources chanelled towards Norwich and King's Lynn.

"Shadow local government minister Bob Neill said the Tories would give a manifesto commitment to overturn any plans to replace the current set-up of seven districts and the county council with a unitary structure - even if the government went with plans to elect a new unitary authority in May," the EDP report goes on.

"The move raises the strange prospect for democracy that voters would go to the polls to elect a new council which could be immediately scrapped."

Far stranger than this would be the potential bun fight with Tories fighting Tories. Standing back and watching the current stand-off over the local government review from a distance, it's already clear that it's caused some deep divisions.

Returning power to local communities and "smaller government" do niot mean creating some super-monolith to rule Norfolk.

Another line in the EDP report leaps out: "The committee has been swayed by the case, ironically put forward by Norfolk County Council, that the new council could save £25m a year by cutting red tape and duplication alone while also giving more power to grassroots communities and parish councils."

What's so ironic about a load of County Hall officials looking to dump a few country Tories in places like King's Lynn, Cromer and Dereham so they can control the way the cake gets carved..?

Monday, January 11

Election counts postponed to save council cash

Looks like the election - when a date finally materialises - could have a delayed count to save councils cash. We predict this could get intertesting in Norfolk. Story here.

Wednesday, January 6

You can't be sued for gritting the path outside your house, despite claims to the contrary

Interesting urban myth doing the rounds that you can be sued if you salt the path outside your house if someone slips over on it.

Not the case, according to Norfolk County Council:

"Residents and businesses can help improve local footways by sweeping the snow outside their home or business into the gutter before it compacts into ice, and using any nearby grit bins.

"If you do decide to do this, you wouldn't be liable if an accident happened outside your property unless it was proved that you didn't take reasonable care. For instance you wouldn't be liable if you only partially cleared the snow (given that you have no duty to do it at all) but only if you made the situation worse e.g. by pouring hot water on the snow, which then freezes."

Sunday, January 3

What lies ahead in Year for Change..?

So YEAR FOR CHANGE is the Conservative Party's best shot when it comes to kicking off an election campaign, with less than six months until Britain gets the chance to boot out Brown.

Alistair Campbell's blog carries an interesting appraisal: "There is nothing on it to say it is an ad for the Tories, and I can hear now the discussion among the ad execs and the party strategists that led to it. 'We need a teaser, something that just whets the appetitite for the big campaign to come.' 'People don't like politics and politicians, so we need something that is pro-Tory but non-political.' 'The brand is change - popular. Not Tories - not popular. That has to come next.' Yeah right."

People are crying out for change, so in a stating the bleeding obvious kind of way, the Townie Tory ad execs are bang on-message.

But out in the real world, people want to know what changes they're going to get and what difference they're going to make to their lives.

How will smaller government work..? What firm measures will need to be taken on the economy..?

It doesn't seem a lot to ask, you might well think, bearing in mind the mess the country's in.

Then again it doesn't take a strategy genius to work out why firm policies seem a little thin on the ground at the moment.

Ken Clarke's gone on record today about tax increases, more or less admitting the VAT increase is a reality. There's no two ways about it, the country's teetering on the edge of bankruptcy and the money's got to come from somewhere.

Promising there'll be no cuts in the NHS means there'll have to be cuts elsewhere or an increased tax grab.

You can understand the Townie's reticence when it comes to fiscal policy. Admitting a raft of tax increases now would leave an open goal for a Labour's Tax Bombshell style counter attack, akin to the one which sunk Kinnock in 1992 - despite the pollsters believing John Major was cruising for a bruising.

Whichever party gets elected will have so little wriggle room on the economy that tax increases of one kind or another are inevitable.

Rather than shy away from the hard truth, shouldn't a government in waiting kick off a YEAR FOR CHANGE by coming clean on just how bad things are and what it's going to do to change them if it gets elected..?

Townie Tory strategist unmasked

Tory frontbencher: "This guy clearly does not have anything better to do.

"What does he think we do? Does he think we sit on our hands waiting to read emails from a ten-year-old who has just discovered Conservatism, on a £200,000 salary in some farmhouse with a wife who works for Google?"

Withering critique of party strategist Steve Hilton in today's Mail on Sunday.

Enough to strike a chord with any self-respecting member of the Turnip Taliban.

Friday, January 1

More petrol price rise misery on the way

VAT was meant to go back up from 15 to 17.5 per cent overnight. So how come some garages in Norfolk are already charging £1.15 a litre.

Tax is going to go up at least a couple more pence a litre in April. And there are rumours VAT will go up to 20 per cent in an autumn emergency budget doing the rounds in the City, according to a city second-homer type we're on nodding terms with at the Turnip Arms.

Gin and tonics all round. Some year 2010's going to be - we can feel it in our water.