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Does class matter in politics?

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borisThree big speeches have been delivered at the Conservative Party conference so far — by party leader David Cameron, the mayor of London and national bumbler, Boris Johnson, and the party’s spokesman on the economy, George Osborne.

What do all three men have in common apart from their membership of the Conservative Party? They were all educated at elite public schools (Johnson and Cameron at Eton and Osborne at St Paul’s) and all went to Oxford, where they were members of the same dining and social set, the secretive and selective Bullingdon Club.

They have all tried to play down their wealth and upbringing — Johnson has even made an appearance on Britain’s favourite soap opera EastEnders — but there is no erasing the fact that Osborne is an Irish baronet, Cameron is a direct descendant of King William IV and Johnson also has a sprinkling of royal ancestry, even if he has described himself as a “one-man melting pot”.

Opponents have pointed to the wealth and clique of the Conservative leadership to suggest the party is out of touch with ordinary, working-class Britain and unfit to govern. What do you think? Does class really matter when it comes to running the country?

Raising the pension age

BRITAIN/The Conservatives say they plan to raise the retirement age for men to 66 from 65 by 2016 if they win power, a measure that could raise 13 billion pounds to help plug the huge shortfall in the public finances.

They would also hold a review of the retirement age that could speed up further rises – potentially ushering in a state pension age for both men and women of 68 as early as 2020.

Live blog: Conservative Party conference

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daveThe Conservatives will get a chance to show they are ready for office at their annual conference in Manchester. After 12 years in opposition, the party could be on the verge of returning to power in an election due by next June.

Conservative leader David Cameron has said they will set out plans this week for reducing the country’s gaping budget deficit and unveil a “massive” programme to cut unemployment.

Will the Sun win the election for the Conservatives?

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murdoch_newThe Sun trumpeted “It’s the Sun Wot Won It” after the Conservatives won the 1992 general election following the newspaper’s polling day headline “If Kinnock wins today, will the last person to leave Britain please turn out the lights”.

Five years later, Britain’s top-selling daily newspaper switched sides and backed Tony Blair and Labour at the next general election, remaining loyal to the centre-left party at the 2001 and 2005 elections.

from Matt Falloon:

Labour lays down policy gauntlet


The Conservatives might be wishing they could have held their party conference before Labour.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown's address to his party conference in Brighton on Tuesday has thrown down a flood of new ideas, policies and initiatives from faster cancer diagnosis to choosing how Britain votes in what read more like an mini-election manifesto than a speech.
Brown played to his strengths (policy) and avoided trying to overcome his well-known weaknesses (not much of a political entertainer) in public. Trying to be someone else could have been a disaster for a man way behind in the polls to the Conservatives.
Whether it will be enough to make any difference to the polls remains to be seen -- Labour needs a miracle there after all.
But, for now, going for the policy jugular seems to have done the trick -- giving his browbeaten party something to get excited about and hitting the Conservatives where it hurts.
David Cameron's Conservatives have been accused of not giving enough detail on how they would govern the country if the polls are correct and they are to win power next year.
They will have to start showing their hand soon if they are going to convince voters that they have the ideas to run the country and aren't just a vote for change for the sake of it.

UK unions fear future with the “enemy”

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cameronAfter more than a decade of railing against a Labour government that they feel has betrayed their shared socialist roots, British trade unions are now starting to fear what a future with a Conservative government will be like.

“They’re going to come after us like rabid dogs,” said Brian Caton, general secretary of the Prison Officers’ Association said — dubbing the Conservatives “the enemy”.

Cameron calls time on cheap beer

House of parliament Where can you get the cheapest pint in London? In a bar in parliament, according to David Cameron.

Cameron said a pint of Fosters in bars sells for only 2.10 pounds in Westminster, little over half of what you would pay outside the confines of parliament.

from The Great Debate UK:

Government must deliver on Olympic legacy promise

robertson1- Hugh Robertson is the opposition Conservatives' Olympics spokesman. The views expressed are his own. -

With three years to go, it is remarkable that London 2012 is going so well.

London’s Olympics were launched with a massive government miscalculation that resulted in the budget having to be increased threefold, were based on a plan that required us to build two Terminal 5s in half the time and have had to contend with the worst economic recession in living memory.

Should Esther Rantzen stand for parliament?

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Television host, journalist and reality TV star Esther Rantzen is to stand as an independent candidate in the Luton South constituency at the next election.

Rantzen’s interest in running for office was sparked after the seat’s Labour MP Margaret Moran was caught up in the parliamentary expenses scandal.

Was Norwich North just a local protest vote?

At 27, the Conservative candidate in the Norwich North by-election Chloe Smith becomes the youngest MP in the Commons.

She turned Labour’s 5,000-plus majority in the seat into a 7,348-vote winning margin and keeps the Conservative bandwagon rolling. The election had been forced by the resignation of Labour MP Ian Gibson, who claimed almost 80,000 pounds in second home expenses on a London flat which he later sold at a knock-down price to his daughter.

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