Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Change tack

"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less."
"The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things." 
If you replace “word” with “policy.” It’s exactly the response of George Osborne to the decision by the credit agency Moody’s to scrap Britain’s AAA rating. Just to remind you, dear reader. The mantra used by Osborne to keep our rating was “austerity” and more “austerity.” If he didn’t cut, the UK would loose its AAA rating. 
So he cuts and cuts and continues to cut, and lo and behold what happened? Over the weekend, the UK looses its AAA rating.
But you’ve got to admire Osborne without even a by your leave, his mantra changes. Now it’s yet another reason to stick to austerity. So there you have it cuts stop you loosing your status and now they’re needed despite the down grading.
Now I’m not one to take credit agencies seriously, after all they failed to predict the financial crisis, but Osborne and Cameron used them to justify their economic policies. They made them the central test of market confidence, so the weekend’s announcement is another sign of Osborne’s failure.
Failure upon failure. The deficit was going to be sorted this side of the election, but now the target has been moved until 2018. Borrowing is now going to be higher and that’s why Moody downgraded the UK. The expect a “high and rising debt burden.”
Osborne in his first budget predicted that cuts in the public sector would produce a growth led by the private sector. But we’ve witnessed an economy that has flatlined. Or as Moody puts it “sluggish growth” is going to be the UKs lot until “the second half of the decade.”
As this blog has frequently said we’re facing a triple-dip recession and Osborne seems incapable of new thinking. It’s like the 1920s again with the political class of Europe thinking that the only way out of the mess is austerity. Now the politicians in the 20s had an excuse they didn’t know any better, but John Maynard Keynes showed there was an alternative.
Cutting in times of depression makes a bad situation a hell of a lot worse. The  IMF looked at 173 cases of fiscal austerity in advances countries over the period 1978 to 2009. What they found, austerity policies lead to economic contraction and higher unemployment.
As Paul Krugman said in the first chapter of “End this depression now.”
Disasters do happen-history is replete with floods and famines, earthquakes and tsunamis. What makes this disaster so terrible-what should make you angry-is that none of this need be happening. There has been no plague of locusts; we have not lost our technological know-how; America and Europe should be richer, not poorer, than they were five years ago.
Nor is the nature of the disaster mysterious. In the Great Depression leaders had an excuse: nobody really understood what was happening or how to fix it. Today’s leaders don’t have that excuse. We have both the knowledge and the tools to end the suffering.”
To carry on  regardless with the same old policies when they’re failing is sheer political and economic incompetence. If Osborne is too stubborn to change tack, then Cameron has to show him the door. A new approach is needed, urgently.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Inappropriate behaviour

Every Tuesday morning the political parties in the Assembly set their stall as to the issues they wish to highlight for the week. Today all the parties flagged up issues relating to health matters. But as is the custom journalists raised other matters. 
Not surprising Kirsty Williams had to field questions on the Lord Rennard affair. Not least because one of the women who has made allegations against the Liberal Democrats' former chief executive is a Welsh party activist.
Alison Goldsworthy confirmed she was one of the anonymous women interviewed by Channel 4 News who said they had been harassed by Lord Rennard.
Kirsty Williams played the conference absolutely straight. Such behaviour was totally unacceptable and it was right that the party should look into the matter. "These are very serious allegations and I am satisfied that the investigations set up are an appropriate response."

When replying to a question by myself had Westminster anything to learn from the Welsh Assembly on the matter of equality and the way it treats women. Her answer was robust. She said “only a man could ask such a question.” People would be "naive" to assume that alleged sexual misconduct in politics is something only confined to Westminster.
"If you think that this (allegations of sexual misconduct) is something only goes on in Westminster, then you are taking the eye off the ball.” In response I asked whether inappropriate behaviour had happened in the Welsh Assembly. "It's a distinct possibility that it has happened," she replied. "If you think that this (allegations of sexual misconduct) is something only goes on in Westminster, then you are taking the eye off the ball."
So admonished I was. 
Of course, unacceptable behaviour can happen in any institution, certainly journalism is no exception. And why would the Assembly be immune. On that point I’d certainly agree.  
But behaviour is often determined by the nature and culture of an institution. 
Whatever other criticisms can be made about the Assembly, its commitment to equality cannot be faulted. It’s had a balance of the sexes from the start (although since the last election there are now slightly less women, 25 out of 60). In that very balance a different attitude arises one based on respect. 
Not so in Westminster.
Talking to women there, from MPs and their aides, Ministers and journalist and you get a picture of a very hostile work environment. 
Working in the  place is like going back in time. Out of the 650 MPs there are only 142 women. With the male dominance comes a testosterone culture. Often in the chamber itself women are patronised and talked down. Even the Prime Minister hasn’t been immune from such patronising language. 
Power is held by men and they certainly have been known to use it to gain sexual ‘favours.’  As C4s Cathy Newman who worked in the Westminster lobby for 10 years said in today’s Telegraph Westminster is "more public school than public service.” 
Her view one that I echo is the only way to change the sexist culture is to have more women MPs.The institution is antiquated and needs to brought out of the nineteenth century and into the twenty first century. It has lesson’s to learn from the Welsh Assembly. Yes, despite Kirsty Williams views.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Poll points

UKIP are on a roll in Wales. That’s what the latest YouGov poll for ITV predicts.  Their success bites into the Tory vote reducing them to seven Assembly Members, half the number they have now.

The poll is also good news for Labour they regain their dominance of the Welsh political scene. 

In Westminster elections Labour are up 15% from their general election results, according to the ITV’s poll they get 51%. 

But for European elections they go up by an astonishing 24%. Meaning they would get 3 out of the 4 Welsh European seats with the Tories getting the remaining one.

The poll data also show’s Labour gaining a majority over all other parties in the Assembly. All be it by one vote, but enough to prevent them having to accommodate the other parties to get their budgets through. This year they had to do a deal with Plaid, last year it was the Liberal Democrats. 
Labour gain 4% in the constituency section compared with 2011 but do loose out on the regional vote. In the regional list they are  down by 11%. Unusually the pattern for regional votes differ from that of the constituencies.

Despite Plaid being down 2%  in the Assembly constituency section they are up 8% on the regional list. This puts them comfortably back as the second party in the Assembly and the title of being the official opposition. 

But there is a sting in the tail for them. Leanne Wood having decided to give her place up on the regional list to fight a constituency would on this poll data be out on her ear.  This would trigger a leadership election in Plaid’s ranks, as their rules say that the leader has to come from the ranks of Assembly Members.

Whichever way you look at it, its the Conservatives that have most to worry about in the poll. They loose their status of being official opposition in the Assembly. 

According to the figures they would be down to 7 members, just 2 more than UKIP who would make a breakthrough to the Assembly with 5 members, one more than the Liberal Democrats who would go down 1 to having 4 AMs.

The new chamber of the Assembly would look very different to the current one. Labour would have the majority with 31. Plaid Cymru would be the Official Opposition with 13 seats. The Tories would be the third party with 7. UKIP with 5 and Liberal Democrats 4. 

But there is a disappointment to all the anti european politicians. There is no appetite to leave the EU in Wales. This could raise a very interesting constitutional issue if England decided to vote to leave in such a referendum. There is also another irony in the figures. UKIP was opposed to the Welsh Assembly for a number of years, indeed they wanted it scrapped and now if the poll is right become a player in the institution they once wanted rid of. Yet, the people of Wales reject their main raison d'ĂȘtre by voting to stay in Europe. By gum, politics is a strange business

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Labour pains

Whilst the rest of the country saw a fall in those out of work the numbers in Wales were up by 6,000 according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

In Wales the figures of those out of work reached 127,000 during the last three months of 2012. In the same period
unemployment fell by 14,000 in the UK as a whole.

For lovers of statistics Wales' unemployment rate is 8.6% higher than the UK unemployment rate of 7.8%.

According to the ONS said there were 29.73 million people in the UK in employment, of which 73% were working full-time and 27% were working part-time.

The changes to the figures give us an insight to the changing labour market and why despite the overall fall in the figures people are not feeling any better off. 

The ONS said that between October to December 2012, full-time employment was 378,000 lower than in the April-to-June quarter in 2008, the first quarter of the recession. But part-time employment was 572,000 higher compared with the same period.

So its part-time work that’s giving the overall figures the boost. So less wages coming into peoples pockets. 

The ‘feel bad’ factor  is made even worse by the statistics on pay. As the ONS says "there continues to be a cut in the real value of pay" as inflation remains higher than pay increases.
This is the fifth year that peoples standard of living is down. The figures show average earnings down. Average earnings growth last year was down from 1.7% to 1.4%. 

Overall the news is not good at all. If you look at the output of the economy it hasn’t moved. We’re still crawling along the bottom of the dip. With more people producing the same it means that the country’s productivity is falling. 

But perhaps more worrying, as this blog pointed out, the manufacturing sector saw a downturn in the run-up to Christmas. That coupled with big names on our high streets moving into receivership doesn’t make for a sunny outlook even for employment figures in the months to come. 

My prediction is that unemployment figures will begin to rise later this year. The figures tend to lag behind the rest of the economy and as Friday’s figures on GDP are likely to show, an economy still contracting and the prospect of a triple dip recession.

A Plan B is needed and soon.

Monday, 18 February 2013

More powers?

The journey to Home rule for Wales has been a very slow and tortuous affair.  Another small step was taken by the Welsh Government today when they published their vision of Wales’ long term constitutional future. In other words, what powers they want devolved to Wales.

In his government’s submission to the Silk Commission Carwyn Jones see’s Wales not as an independent country but part of the United Kingdom, all be it with more powers over its own affairs. 
Basically, Carwyn’s no separatist more a Home Ruler in the fine tradition of Lloyd George. Until of course LlG got the big job of running the roost in the UK and Empire and quietly forgot his commitment to the land of his fathers. Oh, I suppose he did disestablish the Church in Wales. A big deal in its day.
But back to Carwyn.  The Jones boy wants to go back to first base with a new Government for Wales Act. Instead of powers being handed to Wales at the whim of Westminster he wants the default position that Wales has all the powers. But acknowledges that some areas should be ‘reserved’ to the UK parliament. He wants Westminster to continue to have their sticky paws on the lever of power in the areas of constitutional affairs, defence, foreign affairs, social security and macro-economic policy.
A political leader would never voluntarily give up powers over areas they already have control over and Carwyn Jones is no exception he wants to retain these and add  considerable more to his fiefdom. 
He wants control over the Police and other law and order services, but  the criminal justice system has a whole should be devolved a lot later. Cash being the problem. To devolve them now would be to costly. It begs the question when will they be affordable. But once these were passed to Wales the establishment of a separate Welsh legal jurisdiction would follow. A case of we want more powers. When? In the fullness of time.
One thing he definitely wants control over is water. He know that with his current powers he could not prevent another Tryweryn. So he wants control over all laws relating to water matters within the geographical boundary of  Wales.

Other areas include : Vulnerable adults and children - to clarify and extend competence including in relation to taking children into care, fostering and adoption (public child law); Road safety and powers to improve public transport – including powers over speed and drink driving limits, bus and taxi regulation; Ports -  to ensure that we maximise the economic development potential of Welsh ports; Licensing of alcohol and late night entertainment – in order to promote public health and community safety; Administrative Justice in relation to devolved areas, including arrangements for complaints and redress;The administration of elections in Wales - including Elections to the National Assembly for Wales and local authorities; Taxation – powers consistent with the Silk 1 recommendations to enable the Assembly to legislate on devolved taxes. 

So quite a shopping list. If granted the Assembly would become powerful indeed. According to the First Minister no new constitutional principle is involved, so need for a referendum.  Despite addition powers he still things that any new laws stemming from these could be passed without increasing the size of the current 60 seat Assembly.  Assembly Members would just have to work harder for no additional rewards or anyone to share the burden. Oh dear, poor things.

And when will all this come to pass if ever, I hear you ask? Well, the Welsh Government believes these responsibilities should be devolved to the Assembly by 2020/21, as part of a wider reform of the UK Constitution following the Scottish independence referendum. So we might get them when the Scots have had their say on their future. It was always so.

Friday, 15 February 2013

An eloquence of them

There were 37 pages devoted to firms of solicitors and lawyers in Yellow pages for the Cardiff and West Wales region. All be it, my book was a bit dated but it seems clear we’re over-run with lawyers.  An eloquence of lawyers we have in abundance.
As an ordinary hack I’ve seen them in many guises over the years. The one thing they seem to have in common, apart from their eloquence of course, is they’re usually well heeled.

Now in half term week with little happening in the Assembly I decided to trawl through the minutes of some of our committees, yes, I know I need to get a life. But I happen to come across this exchange. A question by Dafydd El to Edwina Hart the Business Minister.
I am sure that you will be aware, Minister, that some established companies in the city are of the opinion that the support you provided during this month to Lewis Silkin to establish and develop its operation is considered as unfair competition and some sort of subsidy to a firm of lawyers from London to compete unfairly with companies from Cardiff. How do you respond to that, and will you explain clearly to the committee, and to any other interested parties, that this type of assistance is available to companies already based in the area? Enterprise zones are not just about inward investment.
 Edwina Hart: Enterprise zones are about enhancing job opportunities—the retention of jobs and additional jobs. If you are an existing company and you are in an enterprise zone—this is particularly key in Deeside, where we have some larger companies on the periphery—and you wish to expand your operation, what is available in the enterprise zones would also be available to you. I am also quite disappointed by some of the attitudes towards what we are trying to encourage into the Cardiff zone. It is a good zone in terms of the professional and financial services that we want to bring in, and they will be good-quality jobs. It is very important that the Welsh business community as a whole welcomes the development of the enterprise zones and recognises that we can make appropriate offers to Welsh companies that are already there if they are taking on additional staff.
[159] It is important to recognise, particularly in financial services, that companies sometimes outgrow premises and want to be in one centre, thereby bringing in additional jobs, and we will definitely welcome such companies if they want to relocate to the enterprise zone.
And what was the good Lord referring to, I hear you ask. A not insignificant grant to bring yet another law firm to Cardiff.  Lewis Silkin to be precise. The firm is coming to Cardiff with the help of a £160,000 business finance grant from the Welsh Government. 

Now not many will worry to much that there is another competitor to all the other law firms in Cardiff. Although all this competition doesn't drive down their fees. But that's a different story.
But as tax-payers we're entitled to ask whether dishing out our cash to fat cat law firms is a good use of public money.
Now Enterprise matters. Of course we wish all the Enterprise zones to succeed. But if syphoning public money to well-heeled law firms is what they’re about I’m not sure that they’re going to be doing much to get the Welsh economy moving.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Some flesh, please.

If polls are to be believed Ed Miliband will cruise to victory in the general election 2015. The latest Guardian poll has the Conservatives down to  29%(-4), Labour up 41%(+3), Liberal Democrat down 13%(-2) and UKIP up 9%(+3). 

The 12 point lead reflects what other polls are also saying. 

If such a lead was replicated on election day Labour would be returned with a majority of 92 seats. Indeed something for, young Ed to get excited about.
The lead reflects not Ed Milibands outstanding contribution to political debate, but the public giving a massive thumbs down to the current coalition government. The fact is it’s governments that lose elections and oppositions have to do very little to gain the votes. 
Perhaps this is just as well as Ed Miliband has done very little that is positive, except perhaps to emphasise that Labour is for one nation. What that means for Wales and Scotland only he knows. Perhaps at some time he’ll spell it out for us. 

But it wins him votes in middle England so why worry about the sensibilities of Wales or Scotland. After all the voters there will vote for him blindly come hell or high water.
Indeed the failure to reassure that he’ll end Wales’s underfunding  and his glee at supporting cuts to the EU budget at Wales’s expense. Even Carwyn Jones was moved to moan about his stance. Miliband is doing what past Labour leaders have done, take Wales for granted. 

He sees the Welsh voter as nothing more than cannon fodder to Labour’s Westminster ambitions. Treat them like mushrooms. In the dark with copious amounts of muck thrown at them. 
Now Mervyn King has predicted that it’s likely that the economic gloom that is doing so much to harm Cameron’s prospects of winning will continue until the election.
The central bank's 2% target for inflation will remainuntil at least the end of 2015, peaking at 3.2% in the second half of this year, it said. Growth, which is not expected to get above 1% this year, will fail to gain any momentum until 2015 when the economy will regain the size it last achieved in 2007. Not the best of conditions for winning elections. 
After all it’s the economy, stupid. Elections in part are won or lost on the country’s economic future. With official figures showing that low wages and high inflation over recent years have badly hit household incomes. People ain’t going to vote unless they feel a party can offer them hope of change.
Indeed the Office for National Statistics said the real value of average earnings after 30 years of strong growth has fallen back to 2009 levels and the economy is no larger than it was in 2005.
All point to Cameron being a one term prime minister. But we surely need to know what the alternative is. It’s about time Miliband gave us a clue what he wants power for. 
Labour in Westminster has being playing a typical Opposition game, using every opportunity it can to wrong foot the government. Ok, that’s what Oppositions do. But there comes a time when the games have to stop and serious policy alternatives have to be offered. 
Voters need to know that they’re going to get something more than a slightly pinkish version of current policy.  Not much sign of alternatives being offered yet. 
Now is the time when MIliband should be moving away from slogans and offering substance. C’mon Ed what have you got to offer?

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Added misery

No one would be heartless enough to pass on a bill immediately to a grieving parent. Or would they?

This is precisely what will happen after April. Government changes to housing benefit and more specifically the bedroom tax.

In April that’s when the “bedroom” tax comes into force.

If tenants rent a house and are on housing benefit they’d lose on average £11 per week if they were under-occupying by 1 bedroom. Those under-occupying by 2 bedrooms or more would lose on average £19 per week. 

They’d have to make the money up themselves to pay the rent.  But they wouldn’t be on housing benefit in the first place if they could pay the rent. 

All  families that are on housing benefit that suffer a child’s death and the bedroom is empty could find themselves under-occupying and subject to the bedroom tax. 

No sooner that they’ve got over their grieving. They get their benefit cut. The missing child puts them into the situation that they’re under-occupying. And their local council is obliged to wield the axe. 

A heartless act. But councils have no choice, the housing benefit regulations have been passed by the government and will come into force in this instance in April. 

But here’s the rub. This could happen every time a child dies or goes missing and the parents are on housing benefit. 

Surely, no government would deliberately introduce such a policy. Another example of the law of unexpected consequence. Perhaps the government should rethink its housing benefit reform and prevent additional suffering to grieving families.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Independence, when? In the fullness of time.

Carwyn Jones called for it and now Leanne Wood the Plaid Cymru leader wants it. Pre-Scottish referendum talks on the UK constitution. Her view is that we need it to prevent Wales losing out should Scotland vote itself out of the Union. 

David Cameron shows no inclination to listen to either. He’s not prepared to deal with the issue until after the Scottish vote. His view is that he’ll look at the issue of Scottish powers if there’s a no vote. And presumably if such discussions take place Wales will get a look in as well.

Leanne Wood’s argument is that Wales would lose out in a smaller UK sans Scotland. Echoing a view held not only by Carwyn Jones but also Rhodri Morgan.

Why would that be? Well, the rump House of Commons would be dominated by MPs representing English constituents and these would have little regard for Wales. Would the HM Treasury feel inclined to booster the subsidy it gives to Wales? 
Unlikely. What’s the political advantage to them. 

If the Union with Scotland is severed,  keeping Wales on board at a greater cost to itself is unlikely to be top of their agenda. Once the two largest countries in the Union have gone their separate ways, the English dominated Parliament will pay even less regard to Wales than it does today.

Under Leanne Wood’s leadership a view is emerging that Plaid will not be pushing for a Welsh independence referendum until there’s a dramatic turnabout in Wales’s economy. 

Speaking in Westminster Jonathan Edwards MP said: "We are not in a position to win independence until we have improved the Welsh economy." He latches onto the fact that only 89,000 people in Wales pay the 40% income tax rate  and by Plaid’s own reckoning it will take 10 to 15 years before the gap between the performance of the Welsh and English economies closes.

A view echoed by his predecessor in Parliament, Adam Price. He’s now co-chairing Plaid's economic commission, and said: "It just isn't possible to close that gap in anything less in than 10 to 15 years. It will take at least a decade or a decade and a half to undo the damage done by successive governments."

The implications is that a vote on Welsh independence will not take place until everything is fine and dandy with the economy. It could be a long wait. Few other independence movement have held themselves back with such restraints.

Wales is the poorest country in the UK. It is also poorer than most English regions. Being a member of the Union might have done lots for Wales but riches is not one of them. Hoping that the English coin is going to make things better would seem to be a forlorn hope. And that same English coin deliver the conditions for independence, scarcely credible.

If there is  an argument for independence it should be ‘give it us now and then we’ll sort ourselves out.’ 

Independence on the back of another nations subsidy is not a very winning campaign slogan, me thinks.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

The marriage game

David Cameron is going to suffer a definite thumbs down from Welsh Tory MPs.  All eight MPs are set to vote against legalising gay marriage in parliament later today.

Although its a free vote meaning MPs are able to vote without the party whips setting the agenda. The issue is regarded as a conscience vote.

Despite it being an issue of “conscience” if a large number of Conservatives vote against the Prime Minister it will be seen as a split in Tory party ranks. 

Most other MPs from Wales are expected to back the Bill. 

The only other prominent politician expected to vote against is Paul Murphy the Torfaen MP  a prominent catholic and a papal knight. 

Prime Minister David Cameron has insisted that the bill is the "right thing to do". But clearly has not being able to persuade large sections of his own party. They are determined to live up to the label of the “nasty” party.

More than 20 current and former constituency chairmen paraded themselves in front of 10 Downing Street urging the prime minister to delay any parliamentary decision on gay marriage until after the next election. They were of the view that "significant damage to the Conservative Party in the run-up to the 2015 election" if the plans enter law.

Although the reaction amongst the grass roots of the Tory party against the Marriage (Same sex couples) Bill is great. Their stance it is unlikely to help win the support of the centre ground in politics. A group whose votes determine election results. 

So what’s the fuss all about. The bill allows same sex couples to marry and also allows couples who had previously entered into civil partnerships to convert their relationship into a marriage. 

Although some religious groups are opposed to the Bill no such body will be obliged to conduct marriage ceremonies against the will. 

It would seem that like many another social issue, politicians and also some church leaders get themselves into a terrible state. It’s all woe, woe and thrice woe. But a few years down the line everyone wonders what all the fuss was about.

“There never was issued such a terrible curse,
but what gave rise, with no little surprise,
No one seemed no penny the worse.”

Monday, 4 February 2013

Lies, damned lies and politicians.

A politician lying. Don't hold the front page. Except in this case it's a must. For the said politician lied to the courts. Ex-cabinet Minister Chris Huhne  has pleaded guilty to the charge of perverting the course of justice. 
Bad news indeed for him. Whatever the sentence, his political career is finished - gone, kaput, down the drain. 
This is the guy that in every interview swore his innocence but   now admits that he was lying through his teeth. 
He lied and will take the consequences. But his party will also now face a by-election and could also suffer some collateral damage. 
He was a prominent Liberal Democrat. A party that in the minds of many have a problem with “trust.” Having broken their pledge on tuition fees many felt they’d been mislead. Huhne’s behaviour just reinforces this. 
Not the best of circumstances for the party to defend the  Eastleigh seat. 
Although that said, they do have a formidable local presence. In the local Council they greatly outnumber the Conservatives. It is certainly not going to be a shoe-in for the Tories.
It is a genuine marginal seat.  The two coalition parties have got to slug it out here. 
Indeed it offers as much danger to Cameron as it does for Clegg. For it’s a seat Cameron has got  to win if he’s to silence the critics within his party that he’s a loser. He’s got to show that he’s still got ‘it.’ 
‘It’ being winning ways, the wow factor. If he loses we’ll hear more talk about stalking horses. So high stakes indeed for him. 
But how easily will it be. Not easy at all. Why? In one word UKIP. UKIP  have being making the running in recent polls.They now have to demonstrate that the force is still with them. In other words, momentum. 
A seat in Parliament would be a prize indeed. They’ll be obliged to push hard in the seat. With their leader, Nigel Farage as the candidate, who knows. By-elections are strange things.
Whether they win or not, they could certainly ‘do’ for the Tories. They chances are that they’ll eat away at the Tory vote. Enough to ensure the Liberal Democrats hold on to the seat? Maybe.
The real winner, Ed Miliband. All his party has to do is maintain their vote. Not even the most optimistic party supporter would expect them to win. But to bring back to the fold those that have in the past voted Liberal Democrat as a tactic to keep the Tories out would be a good result for his party. 
So we have the prospect of Liberal Democrat votes going to Labour. Tory votes going to UKIP. What an intriguing by-election prospect Huhne’s fall from grace will give us political anoraks.