North East Somerset

2015 Result:
Conservative: 25439 (49.8%)
Labour: 12690 (24.8%)
Lib Dem: 4029 (7.9%)
Green: 2802 (5.5%)
UKIP: 6150 (12%)
MAJORITY: 12749 (24.9%)

Category: Safe Conservative seat

Geography: South West, Avon. Part of the Bath and North East Somerset council area.

Main population centres: Keynsham, Radstock, Midsomer Norton.

Profile: An unusually shaped seat that takes in all the western part of the Bath and North East Somerset council area, and the rural outskirts of Bath (known as Bathavon) in the east, meaning the Bath constituency is entirely surrounded by a thin belt of North East Somerset. The seat contains some contrasting areas. The northern parts of the seat, especially the town of Keynsham, are very much affluent commuter areas for Bath and Bristol. To the east the seat is more rural, covering the patchwork of farmland and rural villages that make up the Chew Valley. The southern part around Midsomer Norton and Radstock is part of the old Somerset coalfield. The last of the coal mines closed in the 1960s, to be replaced by light industry, but the close knit industrial heritage of the area remains.

Politics: Called Wansdyke (after the old local authority) until 2010, this was a Conservative seat through the 80s, fell to Labour in the 1997 landslide and was regained by the Tories in 2010. As might be expected, the rural and suburban parts of the seat tend to the Conservatives, with Labour`s support strongest in the former mining areas and parts of southern Keynsham.


Current MP
JACOB REES-MOGG (Conservative) Born 1969, Somerset, son of Times editor Lord Rees-Mogg. Educated at Eton and Oxford University. Former fund manager. Contested Central Fife 1997, The Wrekin 2001. First elected as MP for North East Somerset in 2010. Jacob Rees-Mogg cuts an other-worldly and young-fogeyish figure, often revelling in speeches litt ered withhistorical and classical references. In his first Parliamentary contest in 1997 he famously went canvassing accompanied by his former nanny.
Past Results
2010
Con: 21130 (41%)
Lab: 16216 (32%)
LDem: 11433 (22%)
UKIP: 1754 (3%)
Oth: 670 (1%)
MAJ: 4914 (10%)
2005*
Con: 18847 (37%)
Lab: 20686 (41%)
LDem: 10050 (20%)
UKIP: 1129 (2%)
Oth: 221 (0%)
MAJ: 1839 (4%)
2001
Con: 17593 (36%)
Lab: 22706 (46%)
LDem: 7135 (15%)
GRN: 958 (2%)
Oth: 655 (1%)
MAJ: 5113 (10%)
1997
Con: 19318 (35%)
Lab: 24117 (44%)
LDem: 9205 (17%)
Oth: 755 (1%)
MAJ: 4799 (9%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005, name changed from Wansdyke

Demographics
2015 Candidates
JACOB REES-MOGG (Conservative) See above.
TODD FOREMAN (Labour) Born Kansas. Educated at Grinnell College. Solicitor. Kensington and Chelsea councillor since 2010. Contested West Central 2012 London Assembly elections.
WERA HOBHOUSE (Liberal Democrat) Born Germany. Rochdale councillor 2004-2014, originally elected as a Conservative.. Contested Heywood and Middleton 2010. Defected to the Liberal Democrats in 2005.
ERNIE BLABER (UKIP) Former manager and royal marine.
KATY BOYCE (Green)
Links
Comments - 531 Responses on “Somerset North East”
  1. Rivers, look away from the government and towards wider society. According to every study and survey going, we live in a more tolerant, open country than ever before. British attitudes towards ethnic minorities have relaxed remarkably over the last generation or so, and immigrants (as distinct from “immigration” – there is an important difference) are as welcome as they ever have been. Figures like Katie Hopkins are roundly condemned, or at least ingored, by ordinary people.

    To suggest, in such circumstances, that Britain is about to fall to fascism is laughable. The Charlottesville rally represents the limits of fascism in the modern West. A few hundred basement-dwelling losers in a country of hundreds of millions. To dwell on the “fascist” threat from the current Conservative Party risks taking our eyes off genuine fascist threats to us – principally ISIS. But of course, condemning them might be considered Islamophobic…

  2. I think Rivers makes an important here which is highlighted in the abuse of Sadiq Khan. It wasnt alluded to that he was a terrorist sympathiser he was called a terrorist sympathiser. It wasn’t an ambiguous ‘they’ it was David Cameron. Cameron described Khan as sharing a platform with Suliman Gani a supporter of the Islamic State. It turns out Gani was actually an activist for the Tory party. It was the first time Cameron referred to ISIS as IS as since the Syrian bombings he’s used the term Daesh. Cameron made these accusations in the knowledge they werent true.

    PollTroll is right, wider society as a whole is more tolerant but the people who lead us want to play on our fears and divide us for political capital.

  3. @Rivers. Those examples do not support your statement that the establishment thought are promoting fascism:

    -Kahn did share a platform with an Islamic extremist or is pointing out the truth ‘fascist’ now. Sure a minority of individuals took it too far by trying to imply that Kahn himself was an extremist but these people were widely derided by the mainstream.
    -The ‘go home’ were a bad idea agreed. But that’s what they were a bad idea to try to get the migration figures down and they were not deliberately done to increase stigma against non-white British people. But regardless the Tories were derided for this stunt by mainstream opinion.
    -As for detention centres it’s only the nutty left who want them shut down. Supporting detention centres is a mainstream not fascist opinion. Yarlswood I recognise has particular problems but the mainstream has been calling out these problems. The mainstream solution to Yarlswood would be to fix it the far left solution is to shut it down and not replace it.
    -The mainstream media does not come out with racist stories on a daily basis unless you are on the far left and believe any criticism of Islam or a concern over immigration levels is racist. The likes of the BBC are ludicrously politically correct. Look at the way the media tries to claim that terrorist attacks have nothing to do with Islam despite the obvious fact that they do. The vast majority of the country also thinks that these attacks are linked to Islam, so are most of the country fascist now in the eyes of the Corbynite left?
    -The Muslim foster parents was a silly story granted. However this hasn’t got on the mainstream’s cover up of the rape of girls in towns up and down the country. This goes for the police covering it up, the media refusing to consider the obvious cultural and religious reason why it happens as well as the local Labour politicians (with a few honorable exceptions e.g. Ann Cryer) who turn a blind eye for fear of being called racist. Look what happened to poor Sarah Champion when she had the audacity to speak the truth (something the cultural far left doesn’t appear to be very fond of). This is a far bigger scandal than a rather silly story in the Daily Mail.
    -Were you not around at the time Jo Cox was killed? The media were screeching fascist from the rooftops and trying their damnedest to link it to Brexit. It’s a shame they can’t be as honest about the motives behind Islamic terrorism.

    ”if the situation drifted any further we would be in the grips of actual fascism.”

    One of the most silly comments I’ve ever read. I’m not denying it exists of course but to claim it’s about to take over the mainstream is ludicrous. The ‘mainstream’ is pro-business/capitalist that I will grant you but it is indisputably to the left socially. The ‘cultural Marxists’ or ‘social justice warriors’ as I believe they’re often nicknamed from your party have a far oversized influence on the mainstream relative to their (pathetically small) support amongst the population at large.

    Often I think you have valid points even if I disagree with you but the idea that the mainstream is even remotely fascist is just plain wrong. At least socially the mainstream/establishment opinion is far to the left of the public.

  4. “PollTroll is right, wider society as a whole is more tolerant but the people who lead us want to play on our fears and divide us for political capital.”

    Exactly, this explains my position perfectly. I don’t actually believe there are (many) figures in the mainstream who are genuinely racist however I believe the majority of them would willingly promote, endorse or even participate in genuinely fascistic behaviour if they thought their were votes in it for them. The only thing stopping them going further than they have is that the “cost/benefit” ratio would go into reverse at that point.

    If for example though the British public had the same attitude to immigrants and in particular Muslims as polling shows the people of say Poland have then I have no doubt most figures in the Tory party would be calling for a Trump style Muslim ban and forced repatriation.

  5. Youre probably too young Pepps to remember the child abuse in South Oxhey. A Cllr in St Albans attempted to take it to committee but attempts were made to block its progress through committee. In this case the perpetrators were not asian. The truth is people don’t want to talk about child abuse theyd prefer to pretend it isnt happening

  6. You mean South Mimms? South Oxhey is in a different borough

  7. Sorry to clarify im talking about county rather than district. I think South Mimms is in Hatfield or at least I think North Mimms is.

  8. Goodness, I certainly don’t remember that.

  9. @Matt

    ”In this case the perpetrators were not asian. The truth is people don’t want to talk about child abuse theyd prefer to pretend it isnt happening”

    I agree with that. However in the cases of child abuse in Rotherham are obvious i.e. the deeply negative attitudes towards non-Muslim/white women that is rampant in section of the Muslim community ‘they’re all wh*res etc.’ as well as deeply unhealthy attitudes towards sex more generally e.g. no sex before marriage, arranged often loveless marriages etc. The causes in this type of child abuse are obvious but much of the mainstream, particularly the mainstream, left are more concerned with their multicultural credentials than they are about child abuse.

    ”If for example though the British public had the same attitude to immigrants and in particular Muslims as polling shows the people of say Poland have then I have no doubt most figures in the Tory party would be calling for a Trump style Muslim ban and forced repatriation.”

    @Rivers

    Another ludicrous comment, Jesus Rivers you’re better than this. The public already think by wide margins that terrorism is linked to Islam, that there are huge problems in Britain’s Muslim community and they already even think being Muslim and British is incompatible (just for clarification I personally don’t agree with the final point however I do think believing that Sharia law should trump common law is incompatible with being British). Despite this the Tory party still refuses to make even the most mild criticism of fundamental Islamic doctrine or link the acts of terrorism to it despite huge public support. Thus if the public did support deportations/entry bans the idea that Tory politicians would support it let alone enact it is totally ridiculous.

    Like Labour they are far too terrified of the racist label. Sure unlike much of the Labour Party (including its leadership) they haven’t become out and out apologists for Islamic extremists just yet. But is not being an apologist for Islamic extremism what counts as ‘Islamophobic’ nowadays on planet Corbyn? Is merely staying silent and sticking your head in the sand no longer good enough for the hard left?

  10. Pepps
    I’m not aware of any (credible) polling that shows the British public are nearly as hostile towards Islam as your making out they are, of course a (worryingly large) minority probably are but that’s nothing like what would be required for their to be electoral dividends in blatant Muslim bashing.

    I quoted the Muslim ban and Poland in particular cos their was actually polling done in multiple countries (by the same pollster asking the exact same question) on whether a Muslim ban is a good idea. Something like 60% of Poles supported it while only 15% of Brits supported it. I think it beyond obvious that if 60% of Brits supported a Muslim ban the Tories would adopt it as a policy in a heartbeat.

  11. YouGov poll from 2015:

    Q: Do you think Islam is compatible with British values?

    Generally compatible: 22%
    Not generally compatible: 55%
    Neither: 10%
    Don’t know: 13%

    UKIP: 4-89 Not generally compatible (+85)
    Tory: 17-68 Not generally compatible (+51)
    Labour: 27-48 Not generally compatible (+21)
    Lib Dem: 39-38 Generally compatible (+1)

    With the events since 2015 the numbers of Not will certainly be up over 60% now with don’t know and neither much lower.

    I see you failed to address the point I made in my post though that there is no ‘Muslim bashing’ from the mainstream establishment and that in many cases their terror over being called racist leads them down a path where they are apologising for terrorism and ignoring child abuse. There are serious problems in Britain’s Muslim community and pretending there aren’t any and that everything is fine is just going to make the problem worse. Sadly in my experience the younger generations are often even more hard line than their parent’s or grandparent’s generation.

  12. Pepps
    A question on the compatibility of Islam with British values isn’t totally valid for garnering public opinion towards Islam in general. for the record I don’t even think Islam is computable with British values. My own hope and expectation is that younger Muslims will be more secular (evidence suggests they are) and thus there wont really be an issue going forward. When the question is posed in such a way it naturally invokes images of the devout hijab wearing first generation Muslims not the mostly secular second or third generations thus its naturally going to invoke a more hostile response.

    As for not addressing the point on Muslim bashing in the establishment its cos I don’t accept it in the slightest. Papers like the Express and Mail and out and out racist and that’s plainly obvious. the Beeb is much more subtle. I’ve spoken about this in the past that there was a study done by one of my own Uni lecturers on Islamophobia in the BBC, he found that literally every Islam related story on BBC news since 2010 had a negative spin on it, something which was solely unique to Islam, it was often subtle but it was plainly there.

  13. “My own hope and expectation is that younger Muslims will be more secular (evidence suggests they are) and thus there wont really be an issue going forward. When the question is posed in such a way it naturally invokes images of the devout hijab wearing first generation Muslims not the mostly secular second or third generations”

    I’d very much like to see this evidence you are quoting.

    In my lifetime I’ve most likely lived in more heavily Muslim areas than you have (you’re a Liverpudlian IIRC) and from my personal observation of those places it’s pretty much exactly the opposite to what you state/hope.

    In my first 2 years of university I lived in halls just behind Edgware Road which has been the centre of the Arabic community in London for decades. When I lived there 22 years ago people seemed to rub along OK and burkhas were extremely rare. Today the district has visibly gone downhill (unusual for central London), it feels edgier and less safe, and is a sea of burkhas.

    In 1997 I lived for a year in Stoke Newington, which has also had a muslim community for a very long time. My landlord was a very nice old muslim gent who lived upstairs. Devout but totally integrated. I never saw a burkha in Stoke Newington or anywhere else in Hackney during the time I lived there. Today the area is full of women wearing them.

    I don’t know how anyone can claim that younger muslims are more secular when burkha wearing in London has gone from almost none existent 20 years ago to being common on most London streets today. And by and large it ain’t the older women wearing them.

    I’m not sure if I have a problem with burkha wearing personally and would feel uncomfortable with banning it, but, as a sign that muslim communities are becoming less integrated with the younger members leading the way, I’d say it was pretty unquestionable.

  14. ”A question on the compatibility of Islam with British values isn’t totally valid for garnering public opinion towards Islam in general.”

    @Rivers

    What question would you suggest asking? I disagree I think it’s a very good guide because it tests what the public’s idea about what Britain is against their idea about what Islam is which is (despite the left’s best efforts at absolving modern Islam of it’s severe issues and deflecting blame elsewhere) is heavily negative. If you replaced Islam with Christianity/Judaism/Hinduism/Sihkism etc. do you think you’d get anything like those numbers?

    ”I’d very much like to see this evidence you are quoting.

    In my lifetime I’ve most likely lived in more heavily Muslim areas than you have (you’re a Liverpudlian IIRC) and from my personal observation of those places it’s pretty much exactly the opposite to what you state/hope.”

    @Hemmelig

    I concur entirely from my experience. I had several Muslim friends when I was younger at school and it was fairly horrifying to watch them slowly get caught up in the spider’s web of fundamentalist religion. You had them begin to deny things like evolution because the Quran says otherwise. Essentially think nutty Christians we all like to laugh at but on a larger and more dangerous scale.To be quite honest on reflection what happened to these Muslim kids looks like quite similar to brainwashing. Needless to say I lost these friends when I came out as gay, what with homophobia being utterly rampant in the Muslim community (gay people being born into Muslim families being conveniently forgotten by those pretending there is no problem in the British Muslim community).

    Many of Britain’s older Muslim community on the other hand are from Pakistan or Bangladesh and thus remember the horrors caused by sectarian violence in the partition of India. Thus perhaps because of this they seem to be much more wary of hard line Islamism than their grandchildren’s generation who sadly seem to much more hard line and obsess over every rule and directive in the Quran. I think remember reading that the Muslim youth are more in favour of Sharia law than their elders which I don’t think is overly surprising.

    I do admire River’s optimism that things will get better however it’s blatantly clear that younger Muslims only tend to socialise within their own community and thus Muslims are probably more cut of from ‘mainstream’ society than they’ve ever been. Thus I think it’s likely things are getting worse especially when the ‘partition’ generation finally die off.

  15. Sadly this view of white girls as wh*res is not confided to asian men. In the case i referred to the biggest obstacle was the argument made that these girls were making a choice. They were often referred to young women rather than girls to intentional imply they had capacity to consent. I was also at a friends house when someone made a very similar argument about another case. An argument David Starkey once made that we treat girls in a very Victorian fashion, that they cant possibly flirt or seduce men, thry used their own daughter as an example which was very peculiar. As if this justifies it.

  16. HH/Pepps
    Re things seemingly getting worse in the last 20 years Pepps has inadvertently hit the nail on the head. For one the % of Muslims in the area’s you speak of has risen massively in the last 20 years but also the origin of said Muslims has varied too. 20 years ago the overwhelming majority of British Muslims were from the Indian subcontinent, not just Pakistan and Bangladesh but most notably mixed states in India such as Bengal, Kashmir and Uttar-Pradesh. As Pepps says the memories of sectarian violence has led to many Muslims from such areas being essentially raised to avoid such ostentatious displays of their religion as wearing a burqa for fear of violence.

    Fast forward to today though and our Muslim community is much more mixed in origin (Middle East proper, North and East Africa etc) areas where burqa wearing is far more common. Thus the make up re the “type” of Muslim in the UK has changed as their country of origin has done. Its certainly not a case of the younger peeps being more devout which I’ll address on another post.

  17. As for evidence to back this up I’m quoting two pieces of evidence primarily. The British social attitudes survey but also 2016’s “Policy Exchange” survey of British Muslims.

    The headline figures are worrying I’m not going to deny that such as the fact that 43% of British Muslims support the introduction of “some” aspects of Sharia law, only 53% want to “fully integrate” etc (I wont bother listing all the question their were too many) But in every incidence there was a clear correlation with age with the younger being the most “normal” or “Western” shall we say.

    For example on the two points I made the % of Muslims under 30 who wanted to introduce some aspects of Sharia law fell to 35% and the % who wanted to fully integrate rose to 69% Now I’ll be the first to admit these figures are still not good enough but what they clearly show is progress and so long as we avoid Daily Mail esque hysteria that progress will hopefully continue.

  18. It isn’t going to happen though. It’s entirely unconstitutional. There is only one law of the land snd religious law cannot be implemented or enforced

  19. ‘ “Do you have any idea of how much you would need to borrow to invest to get any sort of meaningful return ?”
    A lot, tens of billions but nation states are uniquely capable of raising that capital.

    “And that’s assuming you would get a positive return after paying the interest on what you had borrowed”
    Interest rates are at historic lows and nation states have great maturity on their debt so financing it isn’t really an issue. ‘

    Actually you’d need to borrow hundreds of billions, maybe over a trillion, to get any sort of meaningful return and interest rates might be low now but how do we know what they will be in ten or twenty years time.

    ‘ “But I do find it revealing though that you consider any restriction on the UK’s overconsumption anathema”

    Most people would, what your proposing is essentially Green party style managed stagnation/decline. This is right out of the “glass half empty” line of thought, why does a balance of payments deficit need to be met with less consumption rather than more exports? The former would hit living standards the latter would raise them further its a no brainer. ‘

    I’m all for increasing exports as I work in export manufacturing myself. But I can tell you its a lot harder to actually increase exports than it is to write “lets increase exports” on a political blog.

    To increase exports we would need to produce goods or services at a lower cost or better quality than our competitors. And do so within all the laws and regulations and pay taxes on every stage of the process. Many of which laws, regulations and taxes are competitors are not subject to. It isn’t easy.

    Back in the 2012 Budget we had George Osborne mouthing off idiotically about doubling exports by 2020 – they’ve barely increased since then.

  20. Re Muslim headwear

    On a trip to London this year I was in a restaurant and at the adjacent table was a Muslim women eating.

    After she had finished eating she put on a Niqab.

    It seemed bizarre to me.

  21. Richard
    “Actually you’d need to borrow hundreds of billions, maybe over a trillion, to get any sort of meaningful return and interest rates might be low now but how do we know what they will be in ten or twenty years time”

    I highly doubt you’d need to borrow anything like that much. As I said most developed countries in the world do this yet only a handful even have a GDP exceeding 1 trillion dollars let alone the means of raising that amount.
    As for interest rates no they may not always remain this low but as I stipulated nation states have great maturity on their debt, their generally seen as a safe investment thus so long as our portfolio remained ahead of the curve and invested wisely we’d finance it easily and see a nice return in the medium to long term. I reiterate most nations do this it certainly isn’t some new fangled idea I’ve plucked out of thin air.

    “To increase exports we would need to produce goods or services at a lower cost or better quality than our competitors. And do so within all the laws and regulations and pay taxes on every stage of the process. Many of which laws, regulations and taxes are competitors are not subject to. It isn’t easy”

    No it isn’t easy but I find it personally tragic that the alterative of managed decline is even being considered.
    As for the laws and regulations major exporting nations like Germany are subject to nearly identical laws as we are (being within the EU) and yet they manage to export vastly more than we do.
    It far more complicated than the regulatory situation, part of the problem is that as you rightly say since we’re never going to compete with the likes of China on the cost front we need quality and these days that means high tech (there’s only so big a market for an expensive label) the likes of Germany, Japan and even the US get this and they spend far more than we do on R and D but not just that they actually have a joined up strategy between research institutions/universities and manufacturers (aka that new buzzword an industrial strategy) In Britain not only do these connections no longer exist their actively frowned upon as some kind of lefty state intervention and Westminster’s priorities in the city mean they don’t even care to find an alternative. So long as this remains the case absolutely nothing will change.

  22. Hares an interesting article that basically sums up what I’ve been saying is the problem with British manufacturing.

    https://www.theguardian.com/science/2013/dec/03/graphene-wonder-substance-uk-economy

  23. I have some shares in this company http://www.haydale.com/about-us so I have an interest in grapheme research.

    On the general issue I’m all in favour of the tax system being changed to favour industrial expansion and when I see people advocating tax increases and cuts in wealth consumption to pay for it I’ll know that they are serious about it.

    Until then I’ll assume the situation remains the same as for the last twenty years ie governments determined to keep consumer spending and house prices rising at all costs and industry something to be sacrificed to pay for it.

  24. I dont think goverments are pursuing the inevitable increase in house prices and consumer index they just arent serious about dealing with it

  25. I think the reality is somewhere in the middle of Richards theory (active pursuit) and Matt’s (passive negligence)

    I think most British governments know full well the damage that the house price and consumer debt bubble is doing but they also realise that due (in no small part to their own stupid decisions) its the only thing giving our economy a façade of credibility. Strip both those things away and its laid bare how utterly shambolic and gutted our economy has become.

  26. Richard – are you the same Richard from Yorkshire who used to post a few years ago?

  27. I am Joe.

    The same Richard who back in 2007 predicted both a recession and that Morley would go Blue the next time the Conservatives won a majority.

    Though I am surprised that the unbalanced economy hasn’t yet collapsed under the weight of the debt mountain it has built.

    Ten years have passed and a trillion quid of debt later – its a bit like a Pink Floyd song.

  28. Good to have you back Richard. I hope all is well.
    I don’t post quite so often (as there seemed to be various arguments which go round
    plus this snap election was really hard work)
    but perhaps I will now – enjoyed your robust views.

    We have to raise productivity if we are to make a real impact.

  29. Thank Joe.

    As to productivity I can think of five reasons, there are doubtless others, which are having negative effects:

    1) Cheap immigrant labour reducing capital investment. This is especially true in low skilled work eg hand car washes.

    2) The trillion pounds of government borrow and spend during the last decade. Whenever parts of the economy have become used to government subsidy then they have productivity growth problems – heavy industry in the 1970s and the public sector in the 2000s. At present entire wealth consuming sectors have become addicted to the money government has pumped into the economy.

    3) The shift in the balance of the economy away from high productivity growth sectors (manufacturing and North Sea Oil) to lower productivity growth sectors in wealth consuming services.

    4) Ultra low interest rates stopping the ‘creative destruction’ that free markets need. Too much capital, labour and land is trapped in ‘zombie companies’ and not available for things with higher growth potential.

    5) Increasing inequality and wage stagnation. Previously workers were happy to increase their productivity as it led to an increase in wages. Now increases in earnings are being concentrated on fatcats with much less for most workers. Subsequently the workers have little encouragement to improve their productivity.

  30. Richard
    My thoughts on your points.

    1) Don’t buy it at all, the points been made before that Britain isn’t unique in taking in a large amount of immigrants, if France, Germany, The Netherlands, Canada and even America managed to avoid this productivity slump with their immigrant influx then why couldn’t we?

    2) Don’t but that either, there is truth to the stereotype that productivity in the public sector is generally lower but that’s always been the case its certainly not a new phenomenon. What is a new phenomenon is the stagnation/decline of productivity in the private sector. This suggests something other than public money is at work.

    3) Totally agree with that one.

    4) I think your onto something with that one but not 100% there yet. Our floundering productivity levels pre dates low interest rates and persisted when they rose so I don’t think its that but your point about capital being trapped in non productive industries is probably accurate but I’m guessing not in the ay you think. The way our economy has been structured has allowed short termist parasitic industries (primarily in parts of the financial sector) to develop and thrive despite these industries not actually creating any new wealth rather they just manipulate existing wealth. The growth of these sectors undoubtedly hasn’t helped our productivity levels.

    5) Some will find it surprising that I don’t agree with this point either. I don’t think its down to personal choice whether to be more productive or not. Indeed case studies from abroad (most notably the US) have show that despite large increases in productivity wages have stagnated. Essentially there is no correlation between the two.

  31. “even America managed to avoid this productivity slump”

    No it hasn’t.

    I attended a conference presentation by an eminent economist in Chicago last year which showed how productivity growth in the US has declined massively, in a similar manner to our own. Of course many of their economic problems ie debt and over reliance on consumption, imports and high immigration are also similar to ours.

    Many economists are of the view that productivity gains in the 90s and early 2000s were significantly driven by IT, especially the widespread use of email, the internet and mobile communication. It is now thought by many that gains from new IT technology have reached a limit, indeed some developments cause productivity to fall, with people getting distracted by social media etc at their desks.

    Rivers – I’ve asked you this before and don’t interpret it as an attack – but I wonder with all your lecturing about what is wrong with British manufacturing you don’t choose to work in the sector yourself. Surely you would value the opportunity to make a difference in an area you care about. Otherwise you’re just going to be yet another empty vessel full of hot air.

    (I’m guessing Richard & I have a good 40 odd years combined experience in the broadly defined manufacturing sector)

  32. Very interesting discussion.

  33. It’s interesting, Hemmy, I read a piece not that long ago that argued that, generally speaking, the productivity gains of an innovation are not fully realised until that innovation is about fifty years old. Which would be a very good thing, as we would therefore presumably have enormous productivity gains falling into our laps into the future.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-40673694

  34. Some good points there from Richard, and HH mainly.

    It’s hard to see how we can break this cycle without raising productivity.
    I’m surprised things like IT haven’t created faster supply side growth.
    Maybe they party fill a gap that people would have found other ways to get round.
    It’s interesting to think that at the time of the 1992 election there was no internet, hardly any mobile phones, but people still managed to contact each other.

    I find it so useful booking holidays and getting all the information, or whatever you want to do.

    Point 5 of Richard’s – I’m not sure that is quite right, but I think there is a problem that people trying to get on the ladder don’t see much prospect of earning more over the years unless they keep moving jobs.

  35. HH
    “which showed how productivity growth in the US has declined massively”
    Maybe their are different ways of measuring “productivity” but from everything I’ve heard (and a quick online search https://tradingeconomics.com/united-states/productivity )
    productivity in the US has been steadily rising since the 50’s with the odd downwards blip barely visible in the wider scale of things
    This compares to the UK which has actually seen very sharp declines in productivity since the crash and although we’ve now returned to growth it remains anaemic and lags far behind the productivity growth in other countries including the US.

  36. “but I wonder with all your lecturing about what is wrong with British manufacturing you don’t choose to work in the sector yourself”

    I’d love too and any advice would be very welcome but from what I’ve seen having recently been actively job searching their are very few prospects in manufacturing especially here up North and what little there is demands experience in said industry that I naturally don’t have.

    Without meaning to get too far off topic its been hinted on this site before but nobody has actually just came out and said it so I’m going to, the job market for young people currently is absolutely dismal. Behind all the talk of “record low unemployment rates” their lays a jobs market that reveals the weakness in our economy. Of the dozens of friends and associates I have who have graduated uni (none of which did a Mickey Mouse subject, one of them even did effing bioscience) all are now in what they themselves admit are crap jobs that is min wage retail or service positions most of them part time or zero hours. I’m actually the only one that has a semi decent desk job but even still I’m essentially just a glorified filing clerk, I’m not paid very well at all and am being kept on a part time contract (I essentially work full time cos they keep giving me overtime, I’ve asked if there is scope to be put on a full time contract and been told bluntly that there isn’t for the foreseeable future)

    I only point this out cos I’m always amazed at how oblivious lots of older folks are about job prospects for people my age these days. I also feel its a great psephological point and partially explains why the Tories are struggling with young people. to use a quote I saw elsewhere “how to you sell Capitalism to those with no Capital”

  37. ”The headline figures are worrying I’m not going to deny that such as the fact that 43% of British Muslims support the introduction of “some” aspects of Sharia law, only 53% want to “fully integrate” etc”

    Fully integrate is a rather vague question to ask and in reality tells you little about whether they are willing to accept the bits of our society that they’re religion tells them that is wrong. For example my former Muslim friends from school would likely have said they wanted to integrate but their idea of ‘integration’ is sadly extremely different from what you or I think integration is.

    ”For example on the two points I made the % of Muslims under 30 who wanted to introduce some aspects of Sharia law fell to 35% and the % who wanted to fully integrate rose to 69%”

    Ok I remembered the figures the wrong way round. But the point still stands I don’t see any signs of integration. Young Muslim’s social lives in my experience seem to revolve around their extended family and the Mosque and even within the Muslim community it is subdivided by nationality i.e. Turks socialise with Turks, Bangladeshis with Bangladeshis, Pakistanis with Pakistanis etc. They all have separate Mosques too. I’ve only known one or two Muslims that have fully integrated and the only reason for that was that they were gay so really didn’t have any choice.

    ”Now I’ll be the first to admit these figures are still not good enough”

    Understatement of the century. Terrifying would be more apt. You talk about hysteria in the likes of the Daily Mail and on many topics I would agree they exaggerate and make problems worse but here they have got a point. There are deep rooted problems in the Muslim community and sticking your head in the sand and hoping they will go away isn’t good enough. Publications like the Guardian are much more dangerous than the Mail on this specific topic as for them even offering a criticism of this problem is racist, bigoted etc. The ‘liberal left’ if you wish to call them that (not that I think they’re particularly liberal in the classic sense) are making it worse by refusing to talk about it or acknowledge the problem. Look at how Sarah Champion was treated for merely speaking the truth whilst Naz Shah who advocated the expulsion of Jews from Israel gets away with a mealy mouth ‘apology’.The contrast of the treatment of these two women does really speak to the problems (mostly) on the left with regards to grasping that Muslims are not above criticism just because they feel that they are ‘victims’.

    I noticed that the lovely Katie Hopkins was mentioned upthread. I would suggest that the only reason she has been able to build a successful career is because of the mainstream’s complete and utter denial over issues like this one that we’ve discussed at length. Whilst most of what she says is either ridiculous, bigoted or simply designed to cause outrage there are grains of truth in a few of the things that she says. Views that most of the public agrees with that are ignored my the ‘mainstream media’/mainstream politicians e.g. the issues in the Muslim community which we have been discussing. This allows people to go ‘well I don’t like her but at least she has the guts to say…’. I saw an interview with her and Ian Hislop the other day and she said: ‘you (i.e. the ‘liberal’ establishment) are Frankenstein and I am your monster’ which was about the most accurate thing she’s ever said.

  38. “Views that most of the public agrees with that are ignored by the ‘mainstream media’…”

    So you really think the media is keeping this quiet? Have you read the Daily Mail recently?

    Even the Guardian recently did one of their long-read pieces about Operation Trojan Horse, which uncovered the plot by the Muslim community in Brimingham to infiltrate and radicalise schools. It’s absurd to say that the media is ignoring the problem – it’s just that they happen to take a different view to Katie Hopkins on the matter.

  39. Rivers

    To respond to your responses:

    1) The effect of immigration varies from country to country depending on the type of immigrants and the socioeconomic system of the country into which they migrate. The UK’s high welfare, free public services economy has attracted disproportionate levels of low skilled immigrants. For example the hand carwash industry didn’t exist in the UK before 2000 and only came into existence because of immigration of cheap labour.

    2) The trillion pounds of government borrow and spend over the last decade has had a negative effect on productivity throughout the economy rather than the public sector. Pumping that amount of money into the economy has created extra spending in shops, hotels, bars and restaurants – all of which have lower than average productivity. The public sector has actually improved its productivity in recent years – this being not unconnected to the spending splurge on them before 2010 being brought under control.

    4) I agree with you about parasite industries. As an example of creative destruction I would give the replacement of the docks in East London with Canary Wharf and new docks with much higher productivity being built at Tilbury and Felixstowe. Now, on a lower scale, I see many low productivity, failing commercial areas of the ‘pound shop, charity shop, bookies, coffee shop, takeaway, empty shop’ variety. These really need to be redeveloped into something which adds more value or if not that for residential use.

    5) This works at a subconscious level – I don’t think you get an efficient workforce unless you have a satisfied workforce. Years of wage restraint, growing inequality and the glorification of wealth has led to frustration among workers. It doesn’t need many people who previously ‘go the extra mile’ to think ‘fuck it, why should I bother’ to have a negative effect on productivity.

    I’ll add another thing which I see affecting productivity.

    6) In manufacturing there is now a higher ratio of ‘overhead’ workers to ‘output’ workers than there was ten or twenty years ago. This has been caused by the ever increasing regulations in QA, H&S, HR etc. The effect being more people employed for no increase in output ie a fall in productivity.

  40. HR – don’t get me started Richard.

  41. I’d argue that these workers do indeed add value (and as someone who has attended a few job interviews recently, and has heard the “what will you bring to us?” question more than once, I have had to think about what creates value a fair bit). People in these lines of work may not have the most visible contributions but it becomes more apparent when you consider what would happen when they aren’t there.

    Quality assessment – if your company is producing a poor product, it’s not creating much value for itself or anyone else.

    Health & safety – despite the poor image, it’s crucial. Accidents can curtail careers or worse. That’s damage to the company’s reputation, and it’ll probably get sued for negligence too. And that pales into significance compared to the poor worker whose injuries jeopardise his whole career.

    Human resources – a bit more of a mixed bag. Recruitment is mostly a zero-sum game, all about getting the best possible resources in a battle against your competitors – there’s no overall value added to society there. But a good HR manager also helps develop and motivate the company’s staff – and that can bring huge benefits.

  42. Pepps
    We’re largely going over old ground here so instead I’ll pose a different point to you, say I and the supposedly denialist liberal left all totally agreed with you and decided that “something must be done” what would you propose?

    You’ve said yourself in the past that ideas like a Muslim ban or forced repatriation would be stupid and counterproductive, you also can’t demand people integrate, if there is one thing we know its that people don’t like being told what their doing is bad (especially re issues like religion) so what’s the solution? The facts demonstrate that while it may be slow going there is in fact progress with younger Muslims becoming more secular, any sensationalist claims that “we have a Muslim problem” accomplishes absolutely nothing and possibly derails everything by making many Muslims (especially young disenfranchised Muslims) feel like the nation is against them, that they’re not welcome etc This essentially encourages them NOT to integrate and instead pushes them deeper into their own religion/community and by extension potentially extremism.

    But if you want some actual policies that might help a bit here are some suggestions. Ban religious segregation in schools, why on Earth do we allow Islamic faith schools? Also stop cosying up to Saudi Arabia who we know are actually exporting their own nutty brand of Islam including might I add sponsoring said Islamic faith schools here in Britain many of which that actually encourage Sharia law and teach pseudoscience. This would undoubtedly help matters somewhat but surprise surprise both ideas have been totally rejected by the current government who are fans of both faith schools and the Saudi regime.

  43. Relating back to the economics talk I was just reading about the IPRR’s latest report on the UK economy, it makes frankly embarrassing reading. Some of the highlights are…

    The UK has officially broke the basic facets of supply and demand in the Labour market, such low levels of unemployment would traditionally lead to upwards pressure on wages, that hasn’t happened…

    In fact the opposite has the UK has faced the longest period of earnings stagnation fro 150 years.

    We are the most geographically unbalanced economy in Europe and the North/South divide has never been wider.

    We have the largest deficit of all the G8 countries and while that might be used as ammo by the pro austerity crowd the report also notes austerity has failed given that this wasn’t the case back in 2010 but other countries have reduced their deficits more proficiently using other means.

    Public and private investment is 5% below the OECD average and corporate investment is below the rate of depreciation something unique to only the UK and Greece while on the flip side we have the highest levels of personal debt in the developed world even surpassing the US

    The labour market is incredibly casualised with more people on low pay today compared to ten years ago, over 1 million people on zero hours contracts (a 500% increase on 2010) underemployment has hit record levels and we have the highest over qualification rate in the EU which can’t even be attributed to too many people going to uni since we have a fairly average level of graduates.

    We are the most unequal country in Western Europe with a third of children living below the poverty line. What’s more for the first time ever the majority of those living in poverty are in working households.

    And finally our productivity levels are 13% below the average for the richest economies and 20% below that of Germany and France.

    I don’t feel this is a partisan point but this paints an image of an economy that is well and truly broken. One can argue what the solutions are but I think what should be clear to all is that what we’re doing clearly isn’t working and we need big change, we’re frankly becoming something of a basket case.

  44. Rivers

    Seriously suggest you go and work somewhere else in the EU/EEA for a bit (while you still can), or move south. You’re clearly very dissatisfied with your life/career so why not do something about it while you’re young enough to be able to instead of just moaning impotently about it. I accept things might be harder in some respects for your generation but it’s never been the case that you can just sit back and expect the world to deliver everything to you on a plate.

  45. Okay, I’m being really nitpicky here, but I think you misinterpreted the report’s comments on the deficit. In the context they were using it, they referred to a “current account deficit” – ie a deficit of international trade. Not the difference between spending and taxes, but that between imports and exports (ie we buy a lot more than we sell). Though the fact that we are so reliant on buying things from overseas, while not making anything ourselves, is, of course, a problem in its own right.

    I don’t think they mentioned “the deficit”, in its more common sense, anywhere in the summary I read. Personally I think that deficit reduction should not really be too much of an issue any more, we are inside the 3% target the EU sets, and it’s low enough that our debt-to-GDP ratio (a much more meaningful figure) is beginning to fall. The priorities in the report are far more salient.

  46. Polltroll
    Both points are actually correct, most of the summaries I’ve seen online refer to the “fiscal gap” i.e the gap between tax revenue and expenditure aka “the deficit” I’m assuming the report itself must have referred to it as such but I just paraphrased and used the term folks are most familiar with.

    I then intentionally omitted the point about the “current account deficit”in part cos I didn’t want to confuse people but primarily cos in the grand scheme of things it seemed like the least of our worries.

  47. HH
    “Seriously suggest you go and work somewhere else in the EU/EEA”
    Seriously considered it, still haven’t totally ruled it out but I don’t fancy the idea of having to uproot and leave everything behind. For the record though if I was to leave it would be permanent. This country has always irritated me, if I was to ever take the plunge I wouldn’t look back.

    “or move south”
    Never going to happen, all the same reasons as above apply but if I ever decided I was willing to leave everything behind and uproot I’d use it as an opportunity to leave the UK entirely. What’s more its plainly obvious that people moving down South in their droves is what’s caused so many problems in this country, I’m certainly not going to go adding to it.

    “You’re clearly very dissatisfied with your life/career”
    Career? To an extent but not as much as you might think, I certainly didn’t expect to walk out of uni into a high paying job, my main beef with my current gig is how dead end it is. As for my life as a whole not at all, I get along great with my family, love my nephew to pieces, got some great friends and an awesome girlfriend. Part of the reason I’m averse to moving is I don’t want to leave all that behind.

    “it’s never been the case that you can just sit back and expect the world to deliver everything to you on a plate”
    Never said it was or thought it should be but I know enough to know that its got significantly harder over the past decade or so and what’s more irritating is that most everyone (including might I add 13 year old me) predicted it. How successive gov’s managed to sleepwalk into this situation ignoring the myriad of warnings is baffling to me.

  48. ‘ Personally I think that deficit reduction should not really be too much of an issue any more, we are inside the 3% target the EU sets, and it’s low enough that our debt-to-GDP ratio (a much more meaningful figure) is beginning to fall. ‘

    Actually it is still increasing:

    https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/governmentpublicsectorandtaxes/publicsectorfinance/timeseries/hf6x/pusf

    The 87% it stands at is quite a contrast to the 70% George Osborne predicted it would peak at.

    The two main risks for this is that at some point another recession will happen with consequent increased borrowing and that at some point interest rates will rise with consequent increase in debt payments.

    You are right to point out the current account deficit – at record levels both historically and in comparison to other countries.

    The two deficits are effectively two sides of the same coin – governments have borrowed over a trillion pounds to fund wealth consumption and this has flowed out of the country to pay for imported consumer tat, foreign holidays, interest on the money borrowed from abroad and remittances from the foreigners working in this country.

    What the country has needed for the last decade was the economy to be rebalanced to something sustainable ie so that Britain’s wealth creation can fund its wealth consumption.

    Instead what we had was a shift in wealth from the young to the old and from those of average means to the rich.

  49. We have lost a huge amount of industrial capacity and the vast majority is never realistically going to come back.

    Consequently it will be impossible to replace more than a small proportion of imports with domestic goods, and our ability to increase exports is similarly constrained.

    Therefore a proper rebalancing will have to entail a big reduction of imports with nothing taking their place – ie a significant reduction in consumption and a decline in everyone’s standard of living.

    It seems inevitable but you can see why no government wants to be the one to do it.

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