There is plenty of new polling in today’s papers, including two polls proporting to show that large numbers of people would vote for new political parties. One by BMG for the Huffington Post, claiming 58% of people would consider backing a new party at the next election, and a ComRes poll for BrexitExpress, claiming 53% of people in a selection of Tory constituencies would consider voting for a single issue party campaigning to “conclude Brexit as quickly and as fully as possible”. There have been various other polls in recent weeks asking similar questions about how popular new parties would be.

These sound like large figures, but you should take them all with a huge pinch of salt – the reality is that quantifying the prospects of a new political party before it exists is an almost impossible task. Certainly it is not something that can be done with a single question.

First let’s look at the question itself. Polls tend to take two approaches to this question, both of which have flaws. The first is to say “Imagine there was a new party that stood for x, y and z – how likely would you be to consider voting for it?”. The problem with that as a question is that “consider” is a pretty low bar. Does thinking about something for a fleeting second before dismissing it count as “considering”?

An alternative approach is to say “Imagine there was a new party that stood for x, y and z. How would you vote if they stood at the next election?” and then prompt them alongside the usual political parties. This does at least force a choice, and sets the new hypothetical party alongside the alternative established parties, prompting to people to consider whether they would actually vote for their usual party after all.

There are, however, rather deeper problems with the whole concept. The first is the lack of information about the party – it asks people whether they would vote for a rather generic new party (a new anti-Brexit party, a new pro-Brexit party, a new pro-NHS party, or whatnot). That misses out an awful lot of the things that determine people’s vote. Who is the leader of the party? Are they any good? Do the party appear competent and capable? Do they share my values on other important issues? Can I see other people around me supporting them? Are they backed by voices I trust?

Perhaps most of all, it misses out the whole element of whether the party is seen as a serious, proper contender, or a wasted vote. It ignores the fact that for most new parties, a major hurdle is whether voters are even aware of you, have ever heard of you, or think you are a viable challenger. That is the almost insoluble problem with questions like this: by asking a question that highlights the existance of the new party and implies to respondents that it is a party that is worthy of serious consideration a pollster has ignored the biggest and most serious problem most new parties face.

That’s the theory of why they should be treated with some caution. What about their actual record? What about when people polled about hypothetical parties that later became real parties that stood in real elections? Well, there aren’t that many cases of large nationwide parties launching, though there are more instances of constituency level polls asking similar questions. Here are the examples I can find:

  • At the 1999 European elections two former Conservative MEPs set up a “Pro-Euro Conservative party”. Before that a hypothetical MORI poll asked how people would vote in the European elections “if breakaway Conservatives formed their own political party supporting entry to the single European currency”. 14% of those certain or very likely to vote said they would vote for the new breakaway pro-Euro Conservatives. In reality, the pro-Euro Conservative party won 1.3%.
  • Back in 2012 when the National Health Action party was launched Lord Ashcroft did a GB poll asking how people would vote if “Some doctors opposed to the coalition government’s policies on the NHS […] put up candidates at the next election on a non-party, independent ticket of defending the NHS”. It found 18% of people saying they’d vote for them. In reality they only stood 12 candidates at the 2015 election, getting 0.1% of the national vote and an average of 3% in the seats they contested.
  • Just before the 2017 election Survation did a poll in Kensington for the Stop Brexit Alliance – asked how they might vote if there was a new “Stop Brexit Alliance” candidate in the seat, 28% of those giving a vote said they’d back them. In the event there were two independent stop Brexit candidates in Kensington – Peter Marshall and James Torrance. They got 1.3% between them (my understanding, by the way, is that the potential pro-Europe candidates who did the poll are not the same ones who actually stood).
  • Survation did a similar poll in Battersea, asking how people would vote if a hypothetical “Independent Stop Brexit” candidate stood. That suggested he would get 17%. In reality that independent stop Brexit candidate, Chris Coghlan, got only 2%.
  • Advance Together were a new political party that stood in the local elections in Kensington and Chelsea earlier this year. In an ICM poll of Kensington and Chelsea conducted in late 2017 64% of people said they would consider voting for such a new party. In reality Advance Together got 5% of the boroughwide vote in Kensington and Chelsea, an average of 7% in the wards where they stood.

In all of these examples the new party has ended up getting far, far, far less support than hypothetical polls suggested they might. It doesn’t follow that this would always be the case, and that a new party can’t succeed. I suspect a new party that was backed by a substantial number of existing MPs and had a well-enough known leader to be taken seriously as a political force could do rather well. My point is more that hypothetical polls really aren’t a particularly good way of judging it.


662 Responses to “The perils of polls about “new parties””

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  1. SAM
    Very good!

    Colin
    Even Juncker’s earlier statement said Chequers would have to be reworked and re-negotiated. That’s a rejection in my book.

  2. Good evening all from a breezy and quite mild Edinburgh.
    I’m really enjoying my wee stint working up here in Auld Reekie. I really can’t get over the views from our offices looking over to the Castle.
    Moving on….
    HIRETON

    I meant to reply to you on a previous post regarding a comment in which you referred to me as being a “right wing Brexit supporting Tory”

    You got the Brexit supporting part spot on and I’ve never hid the fact that I fully support a bolt and I do mean a good and proper bolt from the EU morphing project but that’s about all you got right.

    Just because a poster supports Brexit doesn’t mean they are right wing and support Tory. You and that mad ex SNP councilor, snarly Cairns, tend to label people on this forum as right wing Tories just because they support Brexit.

    If this is the case then 36% of SNP supporters who voted for Bexit really must be Tartan Tories.

    I don’t follow party lines because I’m an individual voter who lends my vote to a party. No party owns my vote, they have to earn the right to have my vote.

    Although I disagree with the SNP on their pro EU stance, I’ve never once slated that party or the Labour party under ol Corby on this forum over Brexit or on domestic policy but have slated the Tories quite a lot over policy and in particular their disastrous approach to austerity.

    You and crazy Cairns are far too quick to judge a poster just because of their support for Brexit.

    In case you didn’t know…I voted Yes in the Scottish indy/ref when I was living in Scotland and will always support Scottish independence. I’ve only voted for one party in my life and that’s been the SNP. Unfortunately we don’t have a Nicola Sturgeon/SNP in England to vote for, however, that doesn’t mean that I can’t support the Tories on taking us out of the EU even though it’s in a bit of a mess.

    A Labour or Tory government, I’ll support (not vote) whatever one delivers on Brexit.

  3. @allanchristie

    Fair enough but in previous threads some time ago you did say you were a Conservative but if you say you are not then so be it.

  4. HIRETON
    @allanchristie

    “Fair enough but in previous threads some time ago you did say you were a Conservative but if you say you are not then so be it”
    ________

    Nope, I’ve never said I was a Conservative but have said when Ed Miliband was the Labour leader that if push came to shove then I would probably vote Conservative rather than vote for a continuation of Blairism which is extremely vulgar and contentious.

    The problem I have with Labour today is not their leader but the amount of naysayers in the PLP who don’t back their leader.

  5. @allanchristie

    OK that’s clear enough : you would vote Conservative rather than for a centrist/ centre right Labour Party but you are not a Conservative.

  6. Turk

    This might be of interest

    If we want to solve the obesity problem, we have to solve the inequality problem. Addressing inequalities will take a broad set of social actions, such as those listed below. Even focussing more narrowly on food, we need to recognise that simply conveying the information that obesity is bad for health will be insufficient. Among the many factors influencing the social gradient [the poorest have the shortest life expectancy and longer periods of disabilities. This is global, seen in low, middle and high income countries] in obesity are availability and price of different foods. Evidence shows that the density of fast-food outlets follows the social gradient – the more deprived the area, the greater the density of McDonalds, Burger King, KFC, and Pizza Hut [6]. Availability has to influence consumption. Purveyors of fast food might counter that they are only meeting demand. But demand must be related to the fact that such fast food is a relatively cheap form of calorie-dense food.

  7. @Trevor Warne – “An approval issued by one Authority will be accepted in all the Member States”

    Great – you’ve got that far, so good, but what difference does that make to a member state taking legal action against a falsified test result?

    The German fine was for vehicles breaking emissions rules in Germany, not here in the UK. This is the bit you don’t seem to get.

  8. COLIN @ BZ

    You’re welcome to use my shortform moniker of BZ, but please do not use BBZ, as I have only one beard.

    I admit that I was a little confused, since the list has been updated a number of times. The latest I’m aware of is the 14 page PDF available here.

    Given the updates, the tests date from 2017, so include May herself and her cabinets.

    Re test 2, which includes the “exact same benefits” is a quote from 2017-01-?? made by Davis. It also refers to May’s We have been clear that we want to get the best possible deal, and free and frictionless trade from 2017-03-29.

    Two May quotes cover test 6:
    “A stronger Britain demands that we do something else – strengthen the precious union between the four nations of the United Kingdom.” of 2017-01-17 plus “Will the deal deliver for all regions and nations of the UK? We have been very clear that we are taking all nations and regions into account.” 2017-03-29

  9. Just a bit more on the Salisbury case (as there were a bit too much discussion about it here)

    https://www.bellingcat.com/news/uk-and-europe/2018/09/26/skripal-suspect-boshirov-identified-gru-colonel-anatoliy-chepiga/

  10. “snarly Cairns”

    snarly…me….

    Peter.

  11. Sam

    I would make the point that the EU has just about the same number of people that would fall into that group of low income families we have, however the eating culture is directed to the “Mediterranean diet” which is a low cost healthy source of food.
    The fact that some citizens in the U.K. choose a high fat diet by consuming fast foods is more a matter of choice than ability to pay, as it cost no more to boil potatoes as it does to cook them in fat and so on.
    The problem with continuing looking for somebody or something to blame when things go wrong is that we sometimes forget we make bad choices ourselves.

  12. Sam – you posted the below:

    ”Thanks for the information that Labour’s six tests on Brexit are not really tests that Labour will apply. They are a collection of promises Labour says were made by the Cons. Is that right?

    Labour would look for membership of a customs union and staying close to the EU, whatever that means.It might mean a hard border?”

    For the first part Yes.

    Re Hard Border I am not a Labour Party spokesperson but I am as near 100% certain as possible that a hard border on the Island of Ireland – even satellite checks and spot physical checks would ever be supported by Labour, Starmer and others have been loud and clear on this throughout.

    The real question is, are there circumstances when as part of a wider settlement an Irish Sea Border may develop.

  13. @turk

    you might not be able to boil potatoes because – you dont have enough electircty credit on your card metre, the local shop does not sell them and you might not have something to go with them. you also might not have any money for the next 5 days. However, you do have some cheap white sliced bread and a tin of spam from the food bank. Hurrah – your kids have a meal! (of sorts)

    That’s the sort of situation many thousands of families regularly face thanks to a combination of a austerity and punitive benefit sanctions – i repeat that sort of situation is not an aberration these days.

    The link between poverty and poor health is well established and has been researched in great detail for years. The best way to improve people’s health is to get them out of poverty – not lecture from a position of privilege.

  14. @Carfrew,

    I still believe that the SP report, whilst demonstrating correlation, doesn’t really establish causation. I think the interrelation between incomes, environment and behaviour is much more complex than “being poor makes you ill and stupid”.

    @Sam,

    Amusing “mock” list, although I don’t really agree that “these influences on health are beyond the control of individuals” unless you adhere to a pretty extreme version of Carfrew’s ‘our citizens are impressionable children who need to have their needs taken care of by us’ approach.

    We have a labour shortage. For most people, in most places, there are jobs available.

    Plenty of people in “deprived areas” work. Deprived areas are often cheek-by-jowl with wealthy areas. People often end up living in deprived areas because of their circumstances, rather than living in the deprived area being the cause of their circumstances. Deprived areas frequently become non-deprived areas and vice versa. I doubt that it’s been studied, but I’d be surprised if the quality of your area changing for the better or worse actively affects your health outcomes, which logically it ought to if there was a direct causal relationship.

    The disability bit I accept. It is not true for everyone of course – lots of disabled people or parents of disabled people manage to earn a good living and live a comfortable life. But it clearly is far more difficult, and some aspects of the government’s welfare “reforms” have made this worse.

    “Stressful low paid manual job” is an interesting thing. I think to some extent it’s horses for courses. It’s not necessarily that these things have a direct relationship, (i.e. stress doesn’t make you die, low pay doesn’t make you die, manual work doesn’t make you die) but that there is a lower strata of bad-quality jobs that meet the whole set – and those jobs probably do such your zest for life away and make you more likely to die. The solution for me is probably to get rid of these jobs altogether, so much as possible, but that may mean no job for some people. The low pay bit might be helped by not importing hundreds of thousands of people a year to do these jobs for low pay.

    Quality of housing I also accept. Again, a reduction in net migration might help with the shortage of housing, but I would advocate a widespread policy of redeveloping our post-war sink estates and replacing them with modern, well-insulated, affordable homes, built at a higher density so that more homes are available for the existing land. However, having worked for many years in police protection roles, there is often an interrelationship between poor housing and tenant that is more complex than is represented. Often there are simple steps that could be taken by the tenant to mitigate the problems of poor housing, but which are not taken. It may not be strictly fair to put the onus on the tenant when the landlord has a legal obligation to deal with problems, but most of the “poor quality” housing I have ever been in had been aggravated by at least one or two actions of the occupier.

    Social activities and holidays. Well, these vary in cost and difficulty, and I suppose it depends on what one wants from life. I haven’t had a “holiday” since my honeymoon eight years ago (Italy – lovely). I’ve been abroad a couple of times for a few days, but always to stay – for free – with friends or relatives (yes I am a bit foreign). I go camping for a weekend once a year. We occasionally go away for a night in a hotel. As for social activities, most of my social life consists of walking the dogs locally and chatting to other people doing the same. Again I am not sure the relationship is anything more than correlation. The causation if there is any is probably through associated, linked factors rather than the holidays and social activities.

    Lone parents come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. It certainly is a good idea to think long and hard about your ability to care for and provide for a family before you start one. Most young couples delay starting a family until they feel they have the material means and financial stability to do so. But of course most lone parents never meant to be lone parents. However, a lot of widow(er)s will be in receipt of some sort of insurance or pension provision. A lot of divorced parents receive substantial financial contributions from their former partners. Some lone parents (my mother included) find ways to hold down well-paid jobs in addition to parenting. So it is a certain kind of lone parent who suffers. Again this type of parent will have been disproportionately affected by benefit cuts, but it is likely to be the other factors in their situation that are the determinant of their hardship rather than strictly speaking just being a single parent.

    Claiming your benefits just seems obvious and shouldn’t be on a “mock” list at all. I suspect this is probably most relevant to the elderly and people with unstable mental health, who may find it hard to bring themselves to access what support there is. One of the reasons I like the Citizens Basic Income concept is the removal of both administrative obstacles and the sense of “accepting a handout”.

    Owning a car isn’t prohibitively expensive. I don’t own one myself as I can walk to work. I’d say in most cases non-car ownership is more a result of poverty rather than a cause of it, although in very rural areas that might not be the case.

    I am not sure what “use education to improve your socio-economic position” is the reverse of. Education is free, and compulsory. Schools of course have their problems, and those in deprived areas generally (but by no means always) have more than their fair share. But surely “do well in school and get yourself a decent job” is just what all responsible adults advise all children to do in pretty much all circumstances? I am not sure there is a school in the UK where a gifted child couldn’t get the education they need to succeed, but poorer children are no doubt concentrated in schools where this is harder to do.

    In a sense, the last one is the key to the whole thing. Outside of London and a few other hotspots, the income from a full-time minimum-wage job (around £1000 a month) is enough to live in a clean, warm environment, eat healthy food, etc. Unless you smoke, drink to excess, take drugs or gamble of course.

    The last thing I’d say about the SP research is the civil servant study that they reference. This is very interesting in showing a pretty linear relationship between wellbeing and income from the bottom all the way to the top. So even after you’ve risen sufficiently high to be in no sense in poverty, absolute or relative, your health outcomes still improve with improved status. On one level that supports the SP report – usually a linear relationship is good indicator that correlation is causal – but it also doesn’t quite fit with the “leaving the poor to die” attitude of the whole policy argument. I would posit that the causal relationship could just as easily go in the other direction. The more stable, healthy, confident and positive you are, the higher you are likely to rise in the status ladder. People who get promoted get cars, move to better areas, have more holidays etc.

  15. @Lazslo,

    Yes, I saw that news and smiled. Just waiting for the first “fake news planted by MI6” responses….

  16. Neil A

    “People who get promoted get cars, move to better areas, have more holidays etc.”

    Of course the level of benefit depends on who you work for. You get a 2% pay rise (and further erosion of your living standards). Others, doing a similar job get a 6.5% rise.

  17. JIMJAM

    Thank you, JimJam.

    Corbyn’s proposal, if the EU agreed to it, would reduce customs checks along the frontier and be a hugely welcome boost to cross-border trade and to the prosperity of both the UK and Ireland. It is also infinitely preferable to the May-Johnson free trade area plan. What it will not do, however, is end the prospect of a hard border.

    For this, both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland need to be in a single market with one another. One way of doing this is for the UK as a whole, in leaving the EU, to stay in a single market and customs union relationship with the EU 27 states – what could be called a “Norway plus” deal. Another is the fall-back option within the EU’s draft withdrawal agreement – that Northern Ireland remains part of the current EU customs territory after Brexit.

    Which one, if any might Labour favour?

    http://theconversation.com/would-staying-in-a-customs-union-after-brexit-avoid-a-hard-border-with-ireland-92485

  18. @neil a

    owning and running a car is absolutely prohibitively expensive for many people – as are lessons and passing your test in the first place.
    It is most definitely off limits for a significant chunk of the population – especially young people.

  19. @Turk

    “The fact that some citizens in the U.K. choose a high fat diet by consuming fast foods is more a matter of choice than ability to pay, as it cost no more to boil potatoes as it does to cook them in fat and so on.”

    I think it is more of a case of a high sugar and low quality fat / generally poor diets with not enough fresh products.

  20. As Van the Man said in his song Magic Time, “you can call it nostalgia, I don’t mind, let me go back for a while to that magic time”. Yes, the magic time of UKPR in its pomp before Brexit monologues and tediously voluminous, one-track and repetitive posts strangled the life out of what was once a truly stimulating political discussion forum. I was reminded of what we’ve lost by remembering what it used to be like, on a day like today, after a leader’s keynote Conference speech had occurred. UKPR would be abuzz with thoughts and observations from a multiplicity of regular posters, right across the political spectrum. OK, there would be a few drearily predictable party political rants, but for the most part, there would be some illuminating debate about the content of the speech and some fairly balanced thoughts on how it would play in terms of domestic politics. Good grief, heresy of heresies, we might even discuss how the speech might effect the opinion polls. I’d pitch in but my main purpose in coming to UKPR back then was to read comments by people I’d come to like, admire and respect; people who always had something, interesting and witty to say. Alas, nearly all of those people, and I admit I’m going back some time, have long gone.

    Apart from Colin’s, I’ve seen no comment on Corbyn’s speech to the Labour Conference today. Whilst I usually disagree with Colin’s take on things, I thought his post was interesting in defining the challenge that Corbyn is laying down to the Tories and how they should respond. Even though he may not agree with a lot of it, I think he’s right to observe the seriousness of the political and economic critique that Corbyn and his team are now developing and the danger it poses to the Tories. I think, in Corbyn, we’re seeing a slow but sure transformation from a nervous neophyte into a serious political leader with some real heft and gravitas. It’s a maturing that I honestly didn’t think he was capable of making, cocooned as he had been for so long in a sort of perpetual backbench rebellion mode. I thought his time, if there ever had been a time, had gone. I think I may have been wrong.

    Somebody has employed a pretty good speech writer too and he’s starting to improve his fairly pedestrian oratorical and rhetorical skills. When he spoke about the hard line Brexiteers he came up with an absolute zinger. He said they “unite the politics of the 1950s with the economics of the 19th century, daydreaming about a Britannia that both rules the waves and waives the rules”. Wow, I wish I’d thought of that one!

    Over to May in Birmingham next week. I think they take Corbyn seriously now, and so they should. It will be interesting to see how they respond to what’s taken place at Liverpool this week. I wasn’t expecting great things from Labour’s Conference, but I was pleasantly surprised at what I heard on Brexit, the economy, education, the environment and foreign affairs.There was clear evidence that this is a party generating radical ideas once again, rethinking timeless old values in a new and challenging world. Something, at long last, is stirring on the Left.

    I’ll be very interested to see the weekend polling.

  21. Norway Plus Sam is the preferred deal. Starmer not calling it that but it is in effect imo.

    Paul Mason no less is advocating as well which adds to the likelihood of Corbyn/McDonnell backing.

    What you pose is similar to me, though, would a future Labour Government acquiesce to NI staying in the Single market as long as Labour can in effect be in A Single market with the EU?

    Hence the Irish sea border possibility.

    This might attract supporters in the LP of a ultimate united Ireland as this would be almost there.

    The Irony if Kate Hoey was in part responsible!!

  22. CB11

    More than Corbyn perhaps is the growing reputation of John McDonnell. Caroline Fairburn and other industry figures are engaging with him properly now, rather than the lip service of the pre-GE.

    Many will disagree with his ideas but they are coherent.

    Corbyn is no Neil Kinnock as an orator but then he lost twice so maybe (from a Labour perspective) that is a good thing.

  23. JJ

    “Norway Plus Sam is the preferred deal.”

    A strange combination, but if Sam is happy about it then why not?

  24. Crofty, not any old Sam, has to be ours.

  25. R&D

    That would certainly lead to a significant reduction in health inequality. Though Norway seems to do pretty well, even without Sam.

    http://www.oecdbetterlifeindex.org/countries/norway/

    “Norway performs very well in many measures of well-being relative to most other countries in the Better Life Index. Norway ranks top in personal security and subjective well-being and ranks above the average in environmental quality, jobs and earnings, income and wealth, education and skills, housing, work-life balance, civic engagement, social connections, and health status.”

  26. Sam as the last NI Secretary, overseeing the painful but unavoidable cession of a British overseas territory to its larger neighbour? The Chris Patten de nos jours?

    Yes, I can see that.

  27. At least Sam knows how politics work in NI – a basic requirement for an NI SOS one would have thought!!

  28. Jim Jam

    Alternatively, Sam knows how politics don’t work in NI – an even more basic requirement for an NI SOS.

  29. ON – Nice one, I actually did LOL, well chortled loudly, still am.

  30. Interesting report in FT as to how the Commission plans to mitigate the effects of an “accidental no-deal” UK exit in March.

    https://www.ft.com/content/425417d4-c1c2-11e8-95b1-d36dfef1b89a

    Potentially it disrupts the carefully balanced distribution of EU powers between institutions and Member States so, like any crisis, can cause tensions within an organisation that all its participating bodies need to be alert to and manage.

  31. CB11

    Interesting thoughts on Corbyn. As you say let’s see how the polls shape up over the next fortnight.
    It does seem like the moderates were very quiet throughout the Conference. Perhaps there is finally an uneasy ceasefire but will it last?

    I do think the party is finally being bolder and more radical after so many timid years when the word “socialism” was frowned upon. The party still have a long way to go to win over middle England and I still doubt this will happen under Corbyn.
    However it is possible they can still win an election without middle England especially if far more young voters are engaged along with older voters who felt disenfranchised.

    Now time for the Tory Conference. They will do well to keep the show on the road next week. It could become very painful and damaging for May

  32. Mike Pearce

    I always find the language of political discourse interesting.

    Much of the ” extreme hard left” :-) ideas being suggested by Labour in England are less ambitious than those already being implemented by the Scottish Government (and the SNP are actually quite timid on introducing really radical change).

  33. Jonesinbangor

    I choose potatoes as an example because it’s a staple cheap food and although if cooked in fat or roasted has a higher blood glucose than sugar, if you boil potatoes the blood glucose is lower than sugar.

  34. @NEIL A

    “I still believe that the SP report, whilst demonstrating correlation, doesn’t really establish causation. I think the interrelation between incomes, environment and behaviour is much more complex than “being poor makes you ill and stupid”.”

    ———

    Well, of course it is Neil. It’s possible to start out rich and wreck your health and prospects, and it’s possible to start out poor and wind up rich and successful.

    But nonetheless as I have pointed out in the past, the greater the number of disadvantages that hit at once, the harder it is to get out of the hole, as opposed to slipping further into it.

  35. @Neil A

    “Amusing “mock” list, although I don’t really agree that “these influences on health are beyond the control of individuals” unless you adhere to a pretty extreme version of Carfrew’s ‘our citizens are impressionable children who need to have their needs taken care of by us’ approach.”

    ———

    Steady On! I’ve never argued that at all. I have simply pointed out that some difficulties are not always as easy to escape as some might think. As for my remedy for this, I haven’t really gone into that all that much, though I’m quite Tory about it in some respects. I think it can be problematic to just dole out some remedial assistance.

  36. Carfrew @NEIL A

    Not only that but (as I’m sure Sam has already pointed out) disadvantage in early life has a damaging effect at the genetic level.

  37. @Neil A

    “I.e. stress doesn’t make you die“

    ——

    Well it can make it a lot easier for something else to kill you. The body’s response to stress includes reducing energy to those things which are not immediately essential to survival, to give maximum energy to the fight or flight thing.

    Which includes things like the immune system. Which is fine if the stress is short-lived. But if it becomes chronic, and your immune system becomes depressed for weeks and months, then you become rather more vulnerable to illness.

    This is before considering the impact on mental health of chronic stress of course.

  38. Good news for assorted Greenies. Not so good for those opposed to the windmills. Been wondering if Corbs would embrace the exponential trends…

    From the Times…

    Wind and solar to drive Corbyn’s green revolution

    Jeremy Corbyn will serve notice today that a Labour government will hit landlords with new green taxes, double the number of countryside wind farms and aim to put solar panels on “every viable” roof in Britain.

    The Labour leader hopes to get on the front foot after a conference dominated by disagreements over Brexit and held in the shadow of a bitter row over antisemitism with a pledge to “kick-start a green jobs revolution”.

    He says that a Labour government would commit itself to reducing net carbon emissions to zero by 2050. On taking power it would scrap planning limits on wind farms and significantly increase subsidies for renewable energy sources paid for in part from the party’s plan to borrow £250 billion.

    Further public spending would be used to insulate homes to make every household energy-efficient within 30 years. Landlords would be compelled to insulate inefficient properties without compensation and those on low incomes and in social housing would be upgraded free of charge. Some 400,000 new jobs will be needed to meet the party’s targets of ensuring that 85 per cent of energy used in Britain is renewable by 2030 and cutting domestic use.

    The Conservative government has attempted to reduce the growth in onshore turbines by withdrawing subsidies and introducing planning rules making it harder to build them. By contrast Labour will seek to double the number of onshore wind farms, increase offshore sevenfold and triple the output of solar energy. To meet the last objective Labour says that it will be necessary to install solar PV panels on “every viable” roof in the country.”

  39. From the Telegraph, psephological stuff on Corbynomics etc.

    The terrifying truth is that Middle England is falling for Corbynomics
    ALLISTER HEATH

    I have some bad news for you, my dear readers. Corbynomics is actually popular – shockingly so to those of us who haven’t drunk the kool-aid. It’s not that the electorate has suddenly caught Marxism: the vast majority of voters still support a mixed economy, want to earn and own more, and distrust Jeremy Corbyn himself.

    Yet many of his policies resonate, appealing even to some Tory voters and across acquisitive Middle England. Populism is often Left-wing and always popular. Some of this support is frothy: a proper campaign by a proper Tory party would change minds by marshalling fresh arguments that voters actually relate to.

    But Matthew Goodwin, a brilliant young Brexit Britain expert at the University of Kent, has collated all of the recent psephological evidence, and it is disastrous for supporters of free-markets such as myself. Take Labour’s idiotic proposal to confiscate 10 per cent of the equity of all but the smallest firms, transferring the shares into a staff fund that would pay up to £500 in dividends to each worker and the remainder to the state.

    No fewer than 54 per cent believe it to be a good idea, against just 29 per cent who don’t – and among Tories, it’s 39 per cent for and 27 per cent against. Of course, nobody has campaigned against this idea, or explained why it would lead to job losses, lower wages, reduced investment, and huge cuts to pension pots. But for now it’s highly popular, as is Corbyn’s proposal to tax second homes more, a move which will do nothing to make property affordable for the young.”

  40. Quelle surprise the Times says the conference was

    ” dominated by disagreements over Brexit ”

    OTOH, Conference was able to bring together most strands of opinion on Brexit to reach a position overwhelmingly endorsed by both the constituencies and Trade Unions.

    Take your pick.

  41. More from the Telegraph article…

    “…There is also public support for compelling firms to include workers on their boards, even though such policies never work. As to nationalisation, most back the idea that Royal Mail, the water and energy firms, the railways and even buses should be run by the public sector, despite the state’s abject record of failure when it was directly in charge.

    Polls and focus groups also show strong support for “capping” the pay of high-earners – yes, in many cases imposing actual quantitative limits – as well as a general belief that capitalism is selfish while socialism isn’t, that the poor get poorer and the rich get richer in a market economy, and many other Corbynite nostrums. The Left is at odds with the public in some areas, including immigration; but the Right has a problem on economics.

    None of this is especially new: five years ago, I wrote in despair at the fact that a plurality of the public thought that the state should have the power to control private rents; it was a crushing 74 to 18 per cent for energy prices. Remarkably, 35 per cent even liked the idea of the state setting supermarket prices for food and groceries, a crazed Venezuela-style policy which would cause total economic collapse. Yet the Tories never argued properly against any of this, failed to propose alternative market-based mechanisms to reduce prices for consumers, and instead decided to embrace many of these views themselves.

    Fast-forward to today and, partly as a result, support for higher taxes to spend more on health, education and benefits is now at its highest level since 2002, with 60 per cent backing; only 33 per cent want to retain current levels of tax and spend, and a mere 18 per cent want to reduce tax and spending in those areas, according to the National Centre for Social Research’s annual poll. The pendulum tends to swing back every decade or so: the difference this time is that taxes are already at or near a post-war high.

    The fightback against Corbynomics will require intelligence, principles, determination and stamina. Shouting “communist” a few times won’t work. As a starting point, the Tories must discover a new language…”

  42. Carfrew

    ” Labour says that it will be necessary to install solar PV panels on “every viable” roof in the country.”

    Any idea what he means by “the country”? Many of those proposals can (unless the devolved administrations are bypassed) only be done in England.

    Scotland has done pretty well in reducing carbon emissions, but government here needs to do more (though they are moving in the right direction) to implement the range of recommendations that will genuinely produce a carbon-zero economy.

    England is starting from a poorer position, but some of the changes that the UK Government can introduce should apply GB (though not UK) wide, so will help us as well.

    Good aspirations, but until we see the practical detail, the jury will be out.

  43. @Colin

    The difficulty for the Conservatives is that having politicians committed to reducing intervention, they’re not really in the zone when it becomes clearer that intervention might be required.

    In theory they can just change tack, but a policy of non-intervention allows those who aren’t much good at interventions to flood into politics. Then when you need intervention, it’s problematic for them and you get things like Windrush.

    (You see the same thing in education. When it becomes noted that play is an important component of learning, those not so adept at actually teaching may then enter the profession, abdicating more and more of the teaching, leaving it increasingly to the pupils to teach themselves through play. Which works fine for some things, but it’s rather more challenging for things like learning to read).

    On the bright side, there are those in the party who get the idea of intervention, Gove clearly gets it, for example, and in truth, most politicians aren’t really up to designing the best systems themselves, they therefore need to rope in those who are. But it needs to be proper genius types, not some mate from a think tank.

    The other potential bright side, is if they can keep spreading the benefits of the money in the SE and the property gains a bit further into the London commuter catchment and those marginals. Then they don’t necessarily have to win the intervention argument.

  44. @Carfrew,

    That bit was aimed at Sam, and quoted from him in.

  45. and yes I was misrepresenting you, for effect….

    But you do tend to dismiss people’s choices as something that are not their own fault.

  46. Neil A

    Sometimes peoples’ choices are wrong. Sometimes they had a free choice, and made the wrong decision.

    At other times, that is not the case. A child whose chromosomes have been damaged by deprivation did not choose for that to happen, and nor did its parents.

  47. I didn’t see any of Corbyn’s speech, but from the quotes I’ve seen and people’s reaction it seems like he hit his stride pretty well.

    Nothing particularly surprising. Like Trump he appears to eschew artifice and just say what he intends, for good or ill.

    It does seem like another marker in the battle within the Labour party, to some extent. He’ll be OK (probably) so long as the party in competitive in the polls, but some of what he’s advocating isn’t just stuff the “Moderates” don’t think will fly, it’s stuff they pretty vigorously oppose. A lot will depend on whether the Blairite wing is prepared to stay on board and just mumble in the background, like Corbyn and his comrades used to do, or whether they attempt any kind of fight.

    I did read an article about Laura Smith’s call for a General Strike at the Momentum meeting, which seems to have let the mask slip just a little bit. Trying to use the Trade Unions to bring down a government is so very 20th century…

  48. Neil A

    “but some of what he’s advocating isn’t just stuff the “Moderates” don’t think will fly, it’s stuff they pretty vigorously oppose.”

    Since it’s quite hard for those of us outwith England to comprehend just what the domestic policy differences (as opposed to Brexit etc) can you provide some examples of policies that Corbyn advocates that the “Moderates” (a term that, in that context is oxymoronic) vigorously oppose?

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