Confessions of a Political Animal

March 31, 2009

A Week Decision

recyclingThe Animal tries not to be too parochial around here, but occasionally something comes up locally that illustrates a broader issue. So it was last week, when the London Borough of Greenwich put a leaflet through the door outlining amended waste collection arrangements.

I don’t tend to be overly critical of Greenwich Council, partially because that seems to be a bit of a crowded market online, partially because it is run by my Party, but mainly because from The Animal’s point of view there is little enough to complain about. Certainly, Greenwich isn’t the most exciting, or go-ahead local authority on the face of the planet, but it does seem to trundle along happily enough on a day-to-day basis, delivering key services competently enough most of the time.

However, on recycling, I do feel they are a *bit* special. Having moved from one (otherwise pretty good) local authority a year ago, being employed by another and having previously worked in London-wide government, I can pretty safely say that Greenwich is streets ahead of pretty much any other comparable borough in the capital: it may not have the highest recycling rate in London – see p.17 of this GLA report – but it is amongst the highest for inner London boroughs/outer London boroughs with inner London characteristics (take your pick), which tend to be the hardest to (more…)

March 25, 2009

European Left Watch: Macedonian Misery

Outgoing Macedonian President Crvenkovski

Outgoing Macedonian President Crvenkovski

The first European national elections of 2009 took place over the weekend, with Macedonia going to the polls on Sunday in the first round of its Presidential elections, choosing a replacement to outgoing incumbent Branko Crvenkovski. Crvenkovski, who had been Macedonia’s first post-independence Prime Minister before becoming President (in 2004), is from the Socijaldemokratski sojuz na Makedonija (SDSM), Macedonia’s Socialist International member party.

Following on from the SDSM losing parliamentary power in a general election of June 2008, it appears that the party’s run of bad form has continued, with the party’s nominee, Ljubomir Frčkoski trailing in a poor second, with 19.81% of the vote,  to the centre-right Gjorgje Ivanov’s (of the wonderfully named Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organisation) 33.95%. (more…)

March 23, 2009

Pushing the boundaries

Filed under: Elections,Labour Party,London Politics — Political Animal @ 4:34 pm
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m25Amongst the general hubub of French politics – a general strike, an unpopular president, parliamentary votes of confidence over the nation’s return to NATO military command – a mini-row is simmering on over Nicolas Sarkozy’sproposals to radically redraw the administrative map of the country, knocking together many of the existing regions to more closely resemble France’s historic dukedoms and kingdoms. Nowhere, however are these plans more hotly contested than in Paris, whose administrative system has failed miserably to evolve alongside its demographic growth.

The area governed as ‘Paris’ – i.e. by the Mayor and Council is astonishingly small, covering just the 105 square km that fall within the boulevard peripherique, the ring road that follows the former line of the city walls. As a rather generous comparison, this could be likened to London stopping administratively at the North and South circulars, casting the likes of Woolwich, Wembley, Stratford and Wimbledon into the outer darkness of the shires from whence they came. Whilst the City of Paris is by no means universally wealthy, it certainly doesn’t represent the poorest portion of the Ile de France, as testified by the fact that prior to the current incumbent, no left-winger had been elected Mayor since the Commune. (more…)

March 13, 2009

Friday Fun

Filed under: Conservatives — Political Animal @ 2:49 pm
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conservatives

As an apology for not posting anything this week…

Make your very own Tory logo here. Thank you, Bosworth Conservative Future!

March 6, 2009

Sugar, and spice, and all things nice…

alansugar…that’s what an Evening Standard non-story is made of.

There’s a series of books doing the rounds with the generic title ‘I Never Knew That About [London/ England/ Scotland/ Ireland/ Wales etc]’. I’m hoping to find out who the series’ commissioning editor is and that I can convince them to issue a new one. It’ll be entitled ‘I Never Knew That About the Labour Party’ and will, I hope, by compiled by pro-Tory, right-wing populist journalist (and therefore expert on all things Labour) Andrew Gilligan.

Because this week, Mr Gilligan has taught me something I never knew about my own party. It’s an amazing fact; it will shock you to your very core and is definitely worthy of being the centrepiece of a major comment piece such as this one, or this one. Are you ready for this? Some people in the Labour Party don’t like Ken Livingstone very much and don’t want him to be the Mayoral candidate in 2012.

OK, and irony switched to ‘off’. (more…)

March 4, 2009

European Left Watch: Spanish Regional Elections

Spain held regional elections at the weekend, which turned out to be something of a mixed bag for the ruling Socialist Party (PSOE). Generally, for reasons of time, the Animal doesn’t propose to cover regional elections – particularly as the materials that need researching tend to be in languages over which I have a very shaky grasp. And there’s inevitably someone with more of an insight of me.

In this instance, I’d like to point you to this excellent post by the Animal’s good friend Dave Cole, who writes about the possibility of the first post-Franco non-nationalist coalition in the Spanish part of the Basque Country, with PSOE as the possible leaders, combined with the main centre-right opposition party.

The BNP and the fear of the other

ethnicity-and-bnp-vote-chart-1

Does the above chart show that multi-culturalism works?

By itself, no, but it could be read as making some interesting points about the impact that experience of diversity has on the likelihood of people to support far-right, anti-immigration parties, such as the BNP. The Animal’s chart doesn’t tell us anything particularly new – it is a well known fact that the BNP does best in heavily white areas – but after inputting the data for it, I was surprised at just how strong the correlation was. The chart plots the proportion of the population in each London ward that is of white ethnicity (caveat emptor: these figures are from the 2001 census. From a social scientist’s perspective, 2011 just can’t come soon enough) against the vote share achieved by the BNP in the cross-London Assembly list section of the May 2008 elections. This is probably the most appropriate election to use, as it requires voters to select a party, rather than a candidate, thus removing mostpersonality factors: this was also the BNP’s strongest section, with their overall vote share narrowly propelling Richard Barnbrook into the London Assembly.

My second chart confirms the picture hinted at by the first: (more…)

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