Tuesday, July 17, 2007


Loony candidate backs Lib Dems to win in Ealing Southall?

Well, it's in the bag folks - with this endorsement we surely can't be stopped!

I happened to spot this comment by veteran Official Monster Raving Loony candidate John Cartwright on the UK Polling Report blog:

"I have a theory that the people in the eastern half of the constituency may be being taken for granted by the main parties, that they are being relied on to vote anyway without needing to be persuaded, and that they will apply the usual mechanics to the psychology of by-elections. The comfortable middle classes of Ealing Common, invisible behind their net curtains yet steadfast in their polling booths, may have already decided to vote tactically for the Lib Dem candidate, and to squeeze the Conservative Party out completely, in order to give Labour a kicking. Mr and Mrs Not-Particularly-Interested-In-Politics-But-Aware-That-The-
Lib-Dem-Was-Second-Last-Time may not even be aware of the big personality cult / bandwagon which has been developing for Tony Lit three miles away.

If this hunch is correct, and if it is combined with a differential turnout between the two halves of the constituency (perhaps 40% in Ealing and 30% in Southall?), then do not be surprised by a substantial Lib Dem victory on Thursday. If the result is something like:

Lib Dem 13,000
Labour 11,000
Conservative 6,000
Others: Whatever

then remember it was what I wrote here."

Whatever you might think of the Loonies, John Cartwright is certainly a colourful character without whom politics would be much the poorer. Some readers may know him from his regular comments on both UK Polling Report and Political Betting (as JohnLoony).

His campaign blog from Ealing is also worth a read - presumably written between stints of tramping up and down the Uxbridge Road with hat and placard (and yes, we did beep at him...)

I think it's appropriate to leave you with some sage words from his leaflet for this election:
“The Official Monster Raving Loony Party wants to build a diverse, pluralist, and tolerant democratic society in which there is mutual respect for a wide variety of different cultures, lifestyles and viewpoints. Anybody who dares to suggest otherwise should be ruthlessly exterminated.”
(Oh, and in keeping with the spirit of this election I have shamelessly nicked John's photo from his website. I'm sure that will be OK. That is, unless he wants to add some spice to his campaign by threatening to sue...)

Monday, July 16, 2007


Go to Ealing and Sedgefield. My face says so.

Have just noticed that my face has appeared on one of the party's new buttons to promote Thursday's by-elections in Ealing Southall and Sedgefield.

So that's why a cackling Mark Pack ushered me into a mysterious yellow room yesterday, whereupon I was planted in front a of a mysterious machine operated by a creature known only as Will Howells - that was the Lib Dem Button Machine!

Obviously I can't reveal anything about the device itself - it is of course a closely guarded trade secret. The last thing we want is Tony Lit telling everyone on the Interweb that he's "been to the by-elections". (Or perhaps "made a donation" would be more appropriate...)

Anyway, do as the scary man in the picture says - go and deliver or canvass in Ealing or Sedgefield, even if it's just for an hour. Only three campaigning days left!

Off you go then.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


A Marriage of Convenience

Why £1,000 a year to get married? Is it "for the sake of the children"?

I ask this question - especially to any Conservatives in the audience - because I have just read in Levitt & Dubner's excellent book Freakonomics that, once you control for other factors, your family structure has almost no effect on educational and social outcomes.

That's right - according to their research, once you control for other factors it really doesn't matter whether you have a mum and a dad, one mum, one dad, or two mums or two dads. What does matter is the socioeconomic background of your parents.

David Cameron is falling into a classic lazy intellectual trap when he says:
"We have the highest rate of family breakdown in Europe. And we have the worst social problems in Europe. Don't tell me these things aren't connected."
Cameron has come down with a bad case of post hoc ergo propter hoc. Of course those things are connected. They are strongly correlated, and that is borne out both by the data and anecdotal experience. But that doesn't mean they are cause and effect.

In fact, Levitt & Dubner's research suggests that a poor socioeconomic background makes you both more likely to come from a broken home and more likely to fail at school. Encouraging people to marry when they otherwise wouldn't have is rather like rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic.

It is poverty and ignorance themselves that cause the social strife we are seeing around us. The only way out of it is increasing social mobility - and the key to unlocking social mobility is education itself.

But we knew that, didn't we?

Update: Teh Grauniad makes much the same point this morning.
(Hat tip: Paul Walter.)

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


Dale's defective defection detection

...and in the other political mystery story of the day, Iain Dale posted this (unsourced) claim that another Labour Councillor in Southall had joined the Tories.

Unfortunately, the Councillor herself then hotly denied it (via Tom Watson's blog).

Not so much as scoop as a rather inaccurate gouge, it would seem...

Update: The plot thickens now to the consistency of chip shop gravy - it would seem she both defected, and then didn't - a sort of Schrödinger's defection, if you will. It seems our line about the Labour and Tory camps descending into farce was even more far-sighted than might have been anticipated.

Labour are taking the biggest blows at the moment; how much longer can they cope with this relentless bad press? And how will Councillor Noori cope with having alienated both Labour and the Tories? If Dale's comments are accurate, surely she can't keep the Labour whip after this comedy of errors?

Interesting times indeed. You almost have to feel sorry for Tom Watson - with friends like these, who needs enemies? Fortunately, we appear to be immune from this madness - for our group in Ealing Southall to split would require some gymnastics from Jon Ball of which I'm not sure he's capable...



I don't think I really need to write anything much on this one - rather I'll stick to tracking the response... but I think I deserve a good laugh at a man who claimed that we pay people fifty quid to put a poster up (and then failed to supply any evidence whatsoever).
  1. Mark Pack earns his spotters' badge (and a hearty slap on the back) by catching Grant Shapps red-handed in a clumsy astro-turfing attempt on YouTube.
  2. Tim Ireland then takes time out from laughing himself silly and e-mails Shapps - who then comes back with the piss-weak excuse that he had set his password as "1234".
  3. Guido and Unity laugh themselves silly, too...
  4. ... as do Jonathan Calder, Paul Walter and Chris K.
  5. Iain Dale decides to be the only person on the Internet to leap to Shapps' defence and provides a bit more hard-to-swallow detail... apparently Shapps waited two days before trying to change his password!
Clearly we're to believe that the Tories' so-called e-campaigning expert doesn't know the first thing about internet security.

And this is the man they called their "answer to Chris Rennard"!

UPDATE: As Unity points out in Dale's comments:
"Should point that in order to get into Shapps' YouTube account, our 'mystery commentor' would need to know the exact e-mail address used to register the account (which YouTube doesn't disclose) as well as 'guess' the password."
This tale just gets taller and taller! Someone should tell Shapps it's time to come clean now before the papers get hold of it...

Friday, July 06, 2007


LabourHome's sheer delight at Southall selection

Feel the love, people.

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