YouGov’s monthly poll for the Telegraph, the first since the Crewe by-election, is another appalling result for Labour. The topline figures, with changes from YouGov’s last poll, are CON 47%(+2), LAB 23%(-2), LDEM 18%(nc).

The Conservatives now have a 17 point lead on the economy and David Cameron has a 22 point lead as best Prime Minister. Gordon Brown’s net approval rating stands at minus 60, which is the worst ever rating I can find for a Prime Minister (the worst John Major ever hit was minus 59 in August 1994).

With the sole caveat that this was conducted soonish after a by-election victory so Cameron will have something of an aura about him, there little else to add – the figures speak for themselves and the picture for the government is bleak.

117 Responses to “Labour continue to plummet”

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  1. Another terrible poll for Labour seeming to confirm a trend.

    I wonder if Labour shows no sign of recoering if we’ll see a repeat of the “Chicken Run” which occurred efore 97 as people like Stephen Dorrell and Peter Lilley bailed out of vulnerable seats in search of more secure tenure. People with ambitions to be Labour leader like James Purnell and Jon Cruddas are predicted to be unseated as well as big names like Jacqui Smith and Ruth Kelly are bound to be feeling worried.

  2. ‘Regarding spending more on teachers, nurses etc fair enough. But have services actually imporoved by throwing money at them?’

    I would argue that more money has been spent on ‘education’, not on teachers. Given the amount of consultants, teach this by numbers, targets, OFSTED, PANDA reports etc.

    I wonder how much education would have improved if you had just given teachers a 30% or so pay rise a while ago. That would have increased the ‘intelligence’ of those entering teaching.

    I know the figure ten years ago for OFSTED was it would have paid for a laptop for every child then. It’s still true that the strongest predictor of education outcome is parental background; if you went to University then your children will. Why? Schools our about certification, the home is about the right educational behaviour; books, discussion, visits, films…

    The problem with education reform in this country is
    * its predicated on you cant trust teachers (so you are shoving the weakest up a level) whereas if you actually paid a real wage you’d get bright people staying in the profession and who wanted to teach, and so education could reach for the stars.
    *There is no academic support for setting as it is done in this country. Setting needs to be done on potential but hey this raises a whole issue like IQ which England just can not handle, I wont bore you with the academic argument at this point. Just check Mirica Gross on google for warm up if you disagree.
    * Every non-professional wants to change it. Politicians and parents have undergone education so believe they know what works. Try that with medicine (oh that’s why alternative medicine has its idiot followers). You get the idea; because people went through an experience does not mean you know how it works on an academic basis. I point out that children in England are tested more than any other country in the world; so 55 million English say 6 billion others are wrong? Statistics suggest that’s a wrong a position. Every test means less teaching time, simple fact.
    * Example of a minor point– the Conservatives introduced, and repeated by Labour– compulsory Shakespeare test at KS3. Finally a group of people will not read well. Say 10%. It’s a fact. IQ. How many of the readers of this website actually go to a Shakespeare play after leaving school? (Teachers and ARTS graduates excluded.) So the answer, especially on the streets , is none. So why make kids do that which we don’t? Why not get all of them literate rather than wasting time? They still have to do Shakespeare at GCSE.
    *Why not get students reading modern texts – novels by live authors, analysing advertisements, analysing TV as that’s the main texts we all read now.It makes them less likely to accept spin from politicians.. .
    *If we want to improve literacy get kids reading books which are modern and then move them to classics. Up until a few years ago under 14 year olds were meant to enjoy reading Mrs Gaskell. What a gross error. To make students literate and enjoy reading you first get them reading about their time and place and analysing it; that way they enjoy reading. later some may want to move on and read other ‘classics’ many wont. The current position with the National Curriculum merely puts the vast majority of reading. Then we complain but we made the stupid curriculum.

    Sorry for the diatribe.

    Basically education policy by Labour and the Conservatives are both wrong. I remember Willets saying to make History compulsory at GCSE; education is for the future, not the past. Make ICT compulsory at GCSE perhaps, not a humanities subject. Abolish Shakespeare tests at GCSE.

    And certainly abolish the Maths and English tests at PGCE; all PGCE students have to have a C at GCSE in English and Maths to be accepted. Then they are meant to take stupid literacy and numeracy tests in PCSE. Either a C grade at GCSE means you are numerate/ literate or you are not- if not then GCSE needs to be altered. To make the same point twice is classic New Laboour pointless paperwork.

  3. JOHN TT wrote :-
    “Look up “minimum wage”, “increased pay for teachers, doctors, nurses, police” as a start off. The money had to be spent. It was spent without a “bust” occurring, despite 9/11 and other disasters, with low interest rates, low inflation, low unemployment, and high employment”.

    Nice to see at least one member of the British public who believes all the Labour spin written above – good on ya mate – Gordon Brown needs every friend he can find these days – especially ones who believe that he and his government have doen anything worthwhile in 11 years.

    It’s taken 11 years for the British public to finally wise up and see what a terrible mistake it was to allow this government to win 3 elections – only one was necessary back in 1997 to kick the Tories up the ass with a small workable Labour majority – instead we allowed them to run roughshod over our democracy , freedom of speech , freedom of choice & untold wars.

    Now we are broke – just like the Labour coffers – what a terrible 2 years we are in for.

    But as i predicted recently – this outrageous government & party will be broken apart soon & be pushed into the annals of history and the 2nd party will become the Liberals .

    And just for you PETER CAIRNS – You can deny the real following of the Tories in Scotland , but you know & i know that the SNP has reached it’s peak as have the Liberals – it’s the Tories who will benefit from the further decline of Labour in Scotland – I stand wholeheartedly stand by my 12 seat Tory gains in Scotland – some of which as you know are currently SNP seats.

  4. Peter:

    I’ve been looking at Con 2nd place Scottish constituencies to try and put them in order of the most probable Con gains, taking account of the local circumstances so that I can see what sort seat would need to change hands if there were to be 11 Con gains.

    Huge Labour losses there will be for sure, but in Glasgow they can withstand it, so high are the majorities, and in the LibDem constituencies in the Highlands where the SNP are in fourth place it is unlikely to make any difference to the outcome however the Labour vote breaks.

    There are some Labour constituencies where the LibDems are in second place and the others nowhere. I havn’t finished looking at it, but there may be more, and more winnable, seats like that than where the SNP are in second place. Of course there will be SNP gains from ScotLibDem too.

    It may be that the ScotLibDems will benefit more than Cons and that SNP gains in seats will be less than might be expected from polls showing a (Scottish)national swing and far far less than the change in the fortunes of the Conservative party South of the border.

    It is beyond rationality to argue in the face of all the evidence that Con gains in Scotland will not be of an entirely different order to Con gains in England.

    There are three winnable Labour seats in the South, but the one they have already could be lost by a 2% local swing the other way. I don’t think David Mundell will lose, but it can’t be said to be a safe seat, especially considering the fact that the SNP might actually be gaining some votes because of their record in the SP though most change will be down to the record of Labour at Westminster. I think if the Conservatives have a net gain of two they should be very pleased with that, and they shouldn’t be looking for scapegoats if they do no better than hold on to what they have.

    11 Con gains is total nonsence as all but one of us on the other thread agrees, but 20 SNP gains might also be significantly wide of the mark. Not that you’ll be concerned, since you’ll agree that the FPTP lot are on their last election arn’t they?

  5. Re WMA: there is no other simple robust way to interpret the data. The errors in individual polls are too great to draw sensible conclusions about trends from them. There are more sophisticated statistical treatments one could use, but these all depend on estimating additional parameters and therefore risk brining in additional statistical artefacts.

  6. No one in their right minds would suggest “individual polls” should be used to assess trends!

    Moving average of polls for each Pollster’s results would seem to be a sensible way of expressing their individual trends.

    WMA of all Polls, across differing methodologies has been discussed ad nauseam here -and rejected.
    In particular I can see no merit in your practice of announcing a latest Poll as “overstating/understating”-only to re-assess it as in-line with trends at some later stage in your WMA.

    I quite like Mike Smithson’s “Golden Rule” as outlined on the most accurate Poll at any given time is the one showing the worst Labour figures.
    It appears to work!

    I quite like

  7. Peter:

    Mike isn’t even trying to provide evidence, he’s just ignoring what slim evidence there is.

    I don’t doubt that the Tories will be heavily targeting 10 or 11 seats in Scotland. I’m sure they have the money to do it. The trouble for Mike is, they throw money at Scotland at every UK GE and end up with precious little to show for it.

    Some people just can’t accept that Scotland is different, even if the polling evidence is there to show it!

    John B Dick:

    The SNP’s target is 14 gains (+6 existing seats = 20). It’s a tall order I admit, but who would ever have thought the SNP would take a lead in Westminster voting intentions?

    I’m not sure how useful looking at 2nd places is. The Tories were in 2nd place in Stirling, Argyll & Bute, and Gordon last May, but the SNP leapfrogged them to win those seats. I think the Tories are still tainted by Thatcher to an extent that limits the potential for voters to switch to them in enough numbers to make winning all but the tightest marginals possible. In a 4-party system, voters always have 3 alternative homes, which makes it harder for ANY party to pull in enough votes to oust an incumbent.

    (Of course, in the 3 seats I just mentioned, two were won by sitting list MSPs and the 3rd by Scotland’s current First Minister. Although I can see how those circumstances won’t apply to a UK GE, there is the case that any party who holds a seat at Holyrood but not at Westminster can make a convincing argument that they are winning in that part of the world. This certainly applies to the SNP but not the Tories in the seats listed above, and plenty of others. It does apply to the Tories in a few places, as listed below).

    Besides, in many Labour held seats, the opposition is split fairly evenly three ways, making any 2nd party a long way behind Labour. A win for another party in such a seat will be tough.

    Having said that, if I was a Tory strategist, I’d be throwing my effort at Dumfries & Galloway (overlaps with Tory seat at Holyrood), Berwickshire, Roxburgh & Selkirk (overlaps with a surprise Con Gain last May) and East Renfrewshire (Labour narrow hold on same boundaries last May). I don’t think Edinburgh SW is a realistic target – the gap is large and some good Tory areas in Edinburgh Pentlands were hived off to Edinburgh South, being swapped for several no-go areas for the Tories.

    The polls show such a huge decline in the Lib Dem vote in Scotland that I don’t think they stand to make any gains (unless you count Dunfermline), although I don’t think they’ll lose half their seats just because they’ll lose half their vote – their vote is bound to be more solid in areas they’ve held for a while.


  8. What is the difference, in policies, between Cameron and Brown? Cameron is posturing as being more left wing than he really is. Look at what happened when Boris Johnson took over in London – a slashing of rebate on public transport and an insane plan to ghettoise crime-ridden estates even further
    ( There is no difference between attacks on the poor made by Labour, or attacks on the poor made by Tories.

    People are protesting against New Labour – it is interesting that some of the biggest swings in the local elections against Brown were in former Labour heartlands.

    Neither party stands for the interests of ordinary people. No mass party has a left-wing agenda anymore. We need to start afresh – similar to when the Labour party was first formed in 1906 as a way of getting the needs of the working class represented in parliament. Google “cnwp” and sign up to the campaign.

  9. Anthony-are you happy with that? :-

    This is the link:-

  10. Andrew Walton 9.30a.m.Why does the left always believe that a swing to the Conservatives will be solved by a movement even further left? It is happening now, with the Unions arguing that the only way they can be persuaded to support Labour financially is if the Party drops NuLab policies and reverts to old Labour.Does it not seem to you to defy common sense? The extreme example of this was in the 1983 Manifesto, and we know what happened to that.

  11. Colin: With Labour losing the next election now an almost-certainty, it makes sense for their paymasters (the Unions) to seek a move to the left now for the remaining 2 years to do what their (the Unions) members want.

    Long term it might, but right now it matters little to the GMB if Labour in 2 years lose by 50 seats or 100. Labour implementing the policies the GMB likes for the next 2 years does matter much more for them.

  12. Well no-one is compelled to use the WMA figures :-). To clarify: I calculate the WMA at the time and the the “retrospectives” which is the average of 5 polls (2 before, 2 afterwards) 2 polls later. The latter should give a better estimate of how accurate a poll really was, but obviously is only available 2 polls later.

    PS Amazingly on they say that the bookies are offering a 27% chance of Labour winning the next election.

  13. Philip-yes indeed.

    I just thought the Boris London Lockdown thing was a bit unpleasant. Maybe I had a sense of humour failure-I never did understand the Loony Left.

  14. I don’t think we can say for certain that Labour will lose the next election. In March 1990 Labour had a 27% lead – the Tories recovered to win the 1992 election by 8%. And let’s not forget it was only a year ago with Labour riding the ‘Brown Bounce’ that people were saying Labour were on the verge of a 4th election win and the Tories were heading for slow extinction.

    Admittedy it doesn’t look good for Brown but aren’t people getting a bit carried away? The next election is still 2 years away and anything can happen

  15. The Tories recovered because of Major’s courage. Also Labour didn’t have a 27% lead in today’s terms – the polls were wrong and had to be corrected.

    The people who were saying these things at the Brown Bounce were, quite frankly, deluded idiots.

    Of course nothing is utterly certain in politics, but if Labour has a 30% chance of winning the next election (ie getting the largest number of seats) then this will be because they have a 60% chance of ditching Brown before then. The chance of Labour winning the next election with Brown as PM must be less than 5%.

  16. MARK. Yes anything can happen and Tories must not get complacent. However in assessing the significance of the current polls we should also have regard for the Crewe and Nantwich result. Consider when was the last time that the Tories took a seat off Labour in a by-election and then failed to win the subsequent general election?

    The answer is Leyton in January 1965 which was held in the unusual circumstances of a vacancy being created to provide a Commons seat for Labour’s Foreign Secretary who had lost his seat only recently in the general election.

    Leyton aside the record in modern times shows that Tory by election successes on the scale of Crewe and Nantwich have ALWAYS been followed by general election victories for the Tories.

  17. Jack :

    Why not get all of them literate rather than wasting time? They still have to do Shakespeare at GCSE.

    The earlier they get to Shakespeare the better. There are a good many “Shakespeare for Kids” projects in primary schools, and they love it. If Tory Boy in Dubai had actually looked up my reference to Julius Caesar, he might have been able to move our little exchange to a more interesting level than simply trying to be glib. That lines him up with The “Oracle”
    Not worth engaging with.

    Colin – I’m interested in the idea that Brown is thinking of moving left. Isn’t it the fact that a big turning point was Cameron’s move to the right last October? Big tax cuts for the most well-off. Then Brown somehow managed to lurch further to the right by squeezing the poorest til the pips squeaked, at which point everyone to the left of Brown scratched their heads in wonder. Surely the centre ground is there for the taking?

    “deluded idiots”. Doesn’t belong here NBeale, but you’re right to bring up Major’s influence on the outcome. The soapbox was a triumph. The bookies will never give overwhelming odds in a two-horse rates that’s two years away.

  18. BTW I had to learn that speech for homework at the age of 11.

    Wikipedia and other web resources will lessen the role of teachers in the medium term. They’ll turn into form-fillers and baby-sitters, if they haven’t already. Unfortunately.

  19. Two horse race, not rates

  20. Steven F

    14 seats seems more likely. Thanks for the correction.

    When I said what kind of seat would have to change, I meant local circumstances as well as who was first and second. I live in Argyll and Bute, which you mention, and I did not expect George Lyon to lose, but I am sure that the the high profile of the candidate was a contributory factor as you say. If so that doesn’t apply to the Westminster seat. There is a similarity between this constituency and those in the SW of England in which Sean Fear has shown LibDem and Con incumbents to be less affected by national swings.

    You also mentioned Stirling. I have a well placed source in that constituency and will come back to you on this in about a fortnight.

    The ScotLibems will certainly lose votes where it makes no difference and they will lose seats to the SNP, but there are Labour seats with small majorities which might compensate the LibDems depending on how the Labour vote breaks. Local factors – not lcal issues – will be important in these constituencies.

    Any Con gains will be in the seats you identify, but all I’m saying is that they will be doing extraordinarily well to get a net increase of more than two seats. It’s not impossible, but with all the focus being on Labour going down and SNP on the way up, the Conservatives will be marginalised.

  21. I agree with Mark. Anything can still happen in the next 2 years. A Labour victory cannot completely be ruled out in spite of these terrible polls for them.

  22. Mark:

    Leyton 1965 – Wasn’t that Reginald(?) Sorensen, a much respected and long serving constituency MP with a huge personal vote who had just fought an election expected to be his last, and neither he, nor the local party, wanted him to go to the Lords? His majority multiplied by his age made him an obvious target for the Labour Party managers.

    A great way to insult the voters too. I was astonished that the Labour party didn’t learn the lesson and repeated the same crass error in Falkirk West.

    Denis Canavan the MP not only wanted to be the MSP for Falkirk West, he very much wanted to be the Labour MSP for Falkirk West, but was not allowed to go on the approved candidates list.

    He not only won the constituency seat twice as an independent, he also could have had a list seat instead, and thousands who abhorred his left wing policies voted for him giving him the largest majority and the largest personal vote in the Scottish Parliament.

    Again this was a long serving MP respected for his integrity and good at dealing with constituency issues.

    Didn’t I say local circumstances should be considered?

  23. Indeed, 2 years is a long time in politics, well, an eternity actually. But if that is the reason why Labour stand a chance of winning the next election, purely because in March 1990 Labour had a 27% lead and the Tories recovered to win the 1992 election by 8%, then that is a very desperate hope. Mainly because the economy wasn’t in such a mess as it is now and John Major wasn’t as unpopular 2 years before the election unlike Brown now. Also, I cant envisage Cameron heading a triumphalistic rally on the eve of the elction quite as horrifically as the Labour ‘government’ did back in 1992, an event that both scared and embarassed the electorate witless! No, I do suspect that this is it for Brown et al.

  24. From the polls, wonderful though they are for the Tories, they do make worrying reading for the Lib Dems. With Labour close to terminal melt-down, their collapsing support is travelling in just one direction – to the Tories. One would have thought that a resurgent party, such as the Clegg-led Lib Dems, would have been welcoming disallusioned Labour supporters by the embrace-ful but it all seems to be passing them by. One can only hope, for their sake, that the Lib Dems become the second most popular party purely by the collosal desertion of Labour supporters to the Conservatives, driving Labour support down into 3rd position. We can but hope!

  25. Tony – that isn’t actually true. Liberal Democrat support is a low level, but the direction of travel is upwards. Look at the graph here – they are still at a low level compared even to earlier this Parliament, but their nadir was when Ming was dumped, since they then have been on the up.

  26. john tt

    RE- Left/Right

    I have no idea whether GB is “thinking of moving left.”

    I sometimes feel that these are geographic terms ,intended to describe the vast distances between political beliefs which used to exist-but no longer do.

    I prefer terms like Liberal/Disciplinarian and Statist/Individualist etc. -though these terms-like Left/Right mean different things to different people. So their use as comprehensive definitions is , I think limited.

    The flurry of activity on IHT by Cameron was not what I would call Right Wing. It was a gesture towards the Middle Classes who were on the point of deserting New
    Labour then-and appear to have done so en-masse now.
    GB merely followed suit on that and other issues to try & stop the haemorraghing of support.

    Cameron has rowed back from his period of Zac Goldsmithian Greenery , as he begins to see what is practical & acceptable to people. I wouldn’t describe this as a move from Left to Right-but a move from a Statist/Disciplinarian position on GW etc to a more Liberal/Individualist one-ie exactly where the general public are.

    My feeling is that Brown is essentialy Statist/Disciplinarian. He believes that making life better for the poor can only be done by the State -and not by the individual.
    His Tax Credit edifice examples this and the whole panoply of State Welfare payments which have destroyed individual initiative in so much of our society.

    The Times Leader today discusses the recent NHS decision to deny cancer care to a dying patient who paid privately for a drug not available to her from NHS.
    It describes this policy as Maoist-“that the collective must always reign supreme over the individual”-“The view that if a treatment is not provided (by The State) for everyone, then it should be available to no one”

    That is the logical extension of Gordon Brown’s approach. It is what lead him to oppose Blair’s introduction of private capital into schooling.

    I don’t know “where” Brown can go now-I just think he is lost & drifting, without the “mission” that was NewLabour being pushed for him ( and sometimes against his will!) by a charismatic leader.

    An article in the Times today contains this quotation:-
    ” Taxes should be cut, efforts to deter antisocial behaviour should be reinvigorated and tough rules put in place on welfare”

    No-not David Cameron-Alan Milburn.

    I think DC will implement that programme in power-though we will have to wait a long time for the tax cuts !
    I hope he is Liberal where it makes sense, Disciplinarian where it makes sense, never Statist & always looking to support individual initiative & responsibility.

    If he is then-yes he will occupy the “centre ground” where most people live.

    But the problems of social fracture & family breakdown in UK. together with the effects of global economic centre of gravity moving from USA/EU to India/China will be a daunting prospect for any Prime Minister.

  27. John B Dick:

    I must aplogise for misreading a line in your original post, which I then responded to at lenght, when I think we’re pretty much in agreement. I can only think of one decent Lib-Dem target, and that’s Edinburgh South where, of course, they have a sitting MSP.

    I am intrigued by your comment about Stirling…

    I’d agree with your comments about the Lib Dems. Although the recent trend is up, as Anthony points out, it’s a pretty modest rise compared with the Tories. I really think they’ll struggle unless Cameron puts a foot wrong. The Tories are even bullish about gaining Winchester in a by-election if Mark Oaten stands down, although I suppose that could be filed under “local difficulties”.

  28. Sorry for the “?’s” in my last post. I am abroad on a non-English keyboard.

    John tt (11.18 May 30) lists the following achievements:
    “Look up “minimum wage”, “increased pay for teachers, doctors, nurses, police” as a start off. The money had to be spent. ?t was spent without a “bust” occurring, despite 9/11 and other disasters, with low interest rates, low inflation, low unemployment, and high employment.”

    We’ve forgotten the most important achievement surely? Blair/Labour fundamentally changed the Conservative Party and the polls you have been discussing reflect this. After years of electing leaders that all seemed to wish that they lived in an England of 50 years ago (and wanted to take us all back there) the Tories have finally chosen someone who appears to be at ease with modern Britain in all its wonderful multi ethnic/religious/sexual complexity. To those cynics on the Left who doubt Cameroon’s conversion look at his improntu standing ovation when Blair left parliament for the last time.

    Cameroon will win next time but ? doubt we’ll be going back to the bad old days. Osborne has already comitted them to not going back to the pathetic levels of public investment of the 80’s and 90’s; we won’t get primary school classes over 30 nor the policy of making patients wait well over a year for operations (current average 4 weeks). A future Tory government won’t bring back hereditary peers making laws over our heads, and the minimun age, gay rights/lesbian rights, and increased maternity/paternity rights are here to stay.

    A Tory Party talking about how best to tackle child poverty or Third World under development; who would have thought it after bearly acknowledging these issues in the past?

    Blair has been awful in parts of course but this historical political shift will be seen as his better legacy.

  29. Gareth’s point is correct – for me David Cameron has begun the journey back to being the Conservative Party again after the necessary years wrenching the country back from the edge of the abyss that ‘butskillism’ and ‘managed decline’ had brought us to. If we have Blair to thank for that so be it but the tradition of being the party committed to bettering the ‘condition of the working man’ has never gone. We have still work to do expunging socialism from its position of undue and unwarranted inlfuence over working class politics but we shall get there.

    The modern Conservative Party was born from concern about ‘two nations, rich and poor’ and it is a relief to talk again about how we can change people’s lives for the better without some ill0informed leftie shouting us down. I just hope my optimism is right and that there has been a substantive change.

  30. It would be foolish to assume that we need only a change of Government to solve society’s ills. Mr Cameron is promising much but we have little indication as to how his Shangri-la will be financed. We remember that we were promised no tax increases in 1992 – and look what happened. It may well be that with many it may be a case of ‘better the devil you know’ when we come to the searching scrutiny of a General Election Campaign. Even some Conservative MPs are willing to acknowledge that there have been some good developments over the past ten years: significantly lower waiting times in the NHS and much better treatment, the minimum wage, Academy schools, huge improvements in school buildings, low interest and inflation rates compared to the nineties, better standards of living, the spread of home ownership. The PM made some very silly mistakes last year chiefly with regard to the Election that never was and the ten pence tax abolition(though Nigel Lawson thought that was a good move). But Mr Cameron made mistakes also – on grammar schools, being out of the country during the floods and his cycling to the Commons followed by his large car. He is not quite perfect! Time – and ‘events’ can have a huge effect on party political well-being.

  31. Actually John C the Conservatives haven’t made a lot of big promises as far as I can see and they’re still a mile in front. DC has been very careful so far not to promise tax cuts or anyhing extravagant.

    There undoubtedly have been some sood things happen in the last decade. Minimum wage has ben a good thing and BOE independence on interest rates has been a good thing. But I don’t think that the enormous extra investment in public spending has brought huge improvements. Now the Government has no more money to spend and they can’t raise taxes any further so where do they go from here.

    The people are just ready for a change, simple as that, and no matter what Labour do now they are doomed.

  32. Hi Colin
    “statism” is a bit of a loaded word – I might coin “self-ism” for a diametrically opposite connotation.

    The tax credit system attempts to sharpen the “tax cuts for the poor not the rich” weapon. It is too complicated, but the main problem with it is that people don’t understand it, or claim it enough. It’s essentially re-distributive.

    If given the choice between “statism” and “self-ism”, I suspect you would fulfil your individual responsibilities and contribute all the more for being freed from the compulsion of high taxes. My worry is that too many others would do the equivalent Boris Johnson did the other week-end and disappear on a week-end break rather than attend Africa Day in Trafalgar Square. There’s a balance to be found.

    I agree with gareth’s point that Cameron has changed the Tories (at least I hope he has), but he has committed to a £3.4 bn tax cut that’s aimed squarely at those who can afford a first-time home worth £250k or more, and those whose estates are worth £2m or more.

  33. john tt

    One thing about Boris should be clear by now. He ain’t going to pander to the politically correct mob led by the likes of Polly Toynbee in the Guardian as new Labour have done for these past 11 years . Ken Livingstone may have had nothing better to do than attend Africa Day, Gay Rights day ,one legged black Jews against racism in Rockall day but Boris has a life and his weekends are- like all of us- his to do with as he wishes. He should not be sniped at for spending time with his family.

  34. Nick – you make my point for me.

    Week-ends are for us to do with as we wish. So are our incomes. The likes of Colin, if released from paying so much in tax, probably would give a bit more to the charities of his choice. The likes of Boris and you would presumably spend their time and money in less altruistic endeavours. I personally think the new Mayor of London should have attended that event , and I’m entitled to that opinion.

  35. Tax cuts : The Tory argument is that the proceeds of the resultant growth would benefit the poor, through a trickle-down effect, more than if the state spent the money. I don’t believe it.

  36. I find it annoying that seat predictions don’t tend to take Scotland into account as a separate entity.
    For instance, if one feeds this poll into Electoral Calculus, one get Con 451, Lab 139 and LD 32.
    However, feeding the Scottish subsample into their Scottish predictor gives Con 4, Lab 7, LD 5 and SNP 43.
    Annoyingly, they don’t provide a way to do both at once.
    I tried to do it manually, taking out the Scottish seats from their general prediction and adding the Scottish ones, which resulted in Con 437, Lab 117, LD 28 and SNP 43.
    That is, all three UK parties would do less well, and the SNP would be the third-largest party in the House of Commons.

  37. I’ve just had a chance to look beyond the headline figures for Scotland and there is a real shift in underlying Scottish opinion.

    For the first time I can recall in a YouGov poll Cameron out scores brown as best PM on the basis of the Scotland figures. It’s only 29% to 26% as opposed to a U 39% to 17% but it is there. Second where as the UK vote is 54% to 29% preferring a Tory Government in Scotland it is 43% to 39%.

    At +4% that’s a lot less than +25%, but it is still the Tories ahead of Labour in Scotland for a Westminster Government. Scots still think that Labour would marginally be better at running the economy, but it’s way down on what they had before. This is probably in part due to the fact that Scots had until recently been more optimistic about the economy.

    I think it’s another first that more Scots now think that Brown going would improve Labours chances. The Tories also come out top on who would best handle tax but at 20% compared to the UK 32%.

    Here there is a possible SNP effect because where as the UK level for “Some Other Party” is 45 on never over 55 anywhere else, in Scotland it’s 15%. These results are more or less mirrored in the question about inflation.

    What in general is striking about the figures is that there isn’t on the economic questions that great a difference in opinion between Scotland and the rest of the Uk and this poll seems to suggest that it is labours hold on Scotland that is slipping and that perhaps for the first time in decades the Scots tradition of voting Labour will really be challenged.


  38. john tt:-

    I think the opposite of “Statism” is personal responsibility.
    I think your word “self-ism” means selfishness-as exhibited on the London Underground by the Facebook Binge Drinkers for example.

    I don’t know if Boris’ holiday falls into that category-I doubt it personally.

    I don’t think that’s the Tory “argument” on taxes at all. I think their philosophy is that a low tax regime tends not to inhibit entrepeneurs & business initiative like a high tax regime does-and that this is conducive to economic growth.

    As to getting the proceeds of that growth to “the poor” by “trickledown”-I don’t recognise that process or understand how it would work.
    For those that find themselves unable to be economically active in a growing economy, then clearly The State has a role in helping them & must do so.

    Once you have defined “the poor” then “How”, is simply a question of finding the most appropriate mechanism.

    Merging The Inland Revenue with Customs ,whilst at the same time tasking them with a monster system for making means tested payments to millions of taxpayers-a process & philosophy which ran counter to everything they did before; might not have been the most appropriate mechanism.

    Another example of the opposite of “Statism”-which I’ve just read in The Times,is Camila Batmanghelidjh explaining why children use knives, and how Kids Company stops them doing it & turns their lives around.

    It is the first time I have read anything on this subject which didn’t leave me feeling full of despair.

    I hope Cameron-or Brown for God’s sake-gets this lady well and truly involved in Social Policy-and gives her all the money she needs.

  39. john tt
    Astonishing how you people on the left always assume that we on the right are less altruistic. As a matter of fact I spend a great deal of my spare time working with homeless people and as the leader of the Society Of Vincent de Paul in a busy cathedral parish dealing with the poor the sick and the needy.
    I have no time for the gesture politics of the left most of whom are conspcious by their absence from my particular rockface.Funny that. Who on this blog remembers all that guff about ‘Cool Britannia’ circa 1997 or the so called ‘ethical foreign policy’ beloved of Blair’s first administration? Whatever happened to the latter ? Perhaps it was a casualty of all those fabled weapons of mass destruction…by the way John tt have the government found any yet? Even Inspector Clouseau should have found them by now don’t you think?
    Only 23 months to go until we are delivered from the endless maladminisration of this government. 23 months and counting… I can’t wait.

  40. “I can’t wait.”

    Nor me-I hope the country can afford to.

  41. Nick,

    John TT didn’t say that people on the right are less altruistic. He said that, if left to there own devices, some people (it doesn’t matter who) would be less altruistic and therefore less would be done for good causes.

    I imagine the reason why he concluded you would be in the portion who were less altruistic is because you suggested Africa Day and Gay Rights Day were not something important enough for the London Mayor to attend.

    I’m sure you’d agree Africa and Gay Rights are very important subjects so I don’t personally see what’s wrong with having a day devoted to them.

  42. Now we are getting quite pharasaical – ‘Look at me; aren’t I good?’ Oh dear!

  43. Steve Wheeler,

    Are you suggesting that it would be unthinkable to oppose having a day devoted to Africa or Gay rights ? How about a day devoted to Fox-Hunting ?

    It is precisely because so called “progressives” assume that everybody must agree with them that really annoys those of us who uphold the right of the individual to freedom of thought (let alone speech).

    Quite frankly, it does not matter how important (or not) some political jamboree is, the fact is that Boris Johnson chose to put something immensely more important first – his family.

    Boris has been setting out some clear markers as to how Conservative politicians can lead by example, and so begin to turn around the degeneration and decay that pogressives have wrought on our country in the past decade.

    (Anthony – apologies if this appears too partisan)

  44. John B Dick,

    With regard to Conservative prospects in Scotland, my analysis reveals:

    7 seats where Tories are second to Labour
    5 seats second to Lib Dem
    4 seats second to SNP

    However, there are only 10 seats where the gap is less than 20% and only 3 where it is less than 10%. Of the latter, two are currently held by SNP (Perth + Angus). If we exclude the SNP seats, then there are only 7 seats where Tories are second and within striking distance of Lab or LD incumbents. Of these, the SNP in third place look set to leapfrog Tories based on the 2007 Holyrood results (Argyll & Stirling). While this does not necessarily mean that the SNP will take those seats at Westminster, it does make it more difficult for the Tories to win these seats.

    That leaves only five seats (3 Lab, 2 LD) which could be considered viable “targets”.

    In addition, there are two other seats where the Tories are in third place but within 10% of the incumbent (Edin S + Ochil). Of these, a surprise may be possible in either depending on how the Labour vote fragments.

    As I have previously commented, the real problem for the Tories in Scotlnd is that the regions where ther vote is stongest are also regions where the SNP is also strong. Until / unless the SNP start to fall from favour, gains in the North-East will be hard to make.

    My own prediction is that the Tories will make between 2 and 5 gains in Scotland. I wish it could be more, but at present that is the realistic limit.

  45. I’ve just read through all the above posts. There’s so many that I could respond to, but I don’t have time to write a book!
    John tt: I think the philosophy that Colin is referring to is that of ‘enlightened self-interest’, where one acts for the benefit of others in such a way that it benefits oneself too. Successful companies always work that way, in my opinion. Purely selfish companies become so unpopular that they lose business (in a free market). By its nature, this will be vastly more efficient than anything the state can dream up.
    On Scotland: Many interesting points. I understand that it is SNP and Scottish Labour policy to have a referendum in Scotland on independence. If there was a ‘yes’ vote, this would lead to the break-up of the UK. In that case, why is there never a suggestion that other members of the Union should have a say in this? Why should one relatively small part of the Union have the only say on whether it should continue?

  46. Pete Banks,

    If you decided to move house, should everyone in your street have a say in whether you should be allowed to leave?


  47. Peter:

    I think a business contract might be a better analogy. Obviously, one party to the contract could back out, but not without some sort of consultation with the other party, and probably compensation (though I think England might forgo that, unless you count having your oil!)
    I wonder if there was a get-out clause in the treaty of 1707? I’ll have to look it up!

  48. Paul HJ

    No, I wasn’t saying that at all. I understand that not wanting a day for Africa is not the same as not caring about Africa. I also said that I didn’t personally see what was wrong with one. I probably wasn’t clear but that’s why I used the word “personally” and “I’m sure you agree that..” to show that I understood the difference.

    I think you make a fair point about judging Boris on his policies and not on his attendance at this event but I think you’re being a bit unfair to “progressives”.

    If you think (actually I think it was Nick who said) that the government should let everybody keep more of there own money, and not force them to give it to charities/organisations that they approve of, then isn’t it unfair to then criticise events that encourage people to give voluntarily? Charities have to get money from somewhere and while I have some sympathy with the argument that politicians are abusing it sometimes, I think these kind of events are really effective at raising money and consciousness of these very important issues.

  49. Pete,

    Treaties aren’t contracts. they don’t have penalty clauses.


  50. Paul H-J

    We are not so far apart.

    I agree with everything you say, but I would caution against expecting to catch all the fish in the pond at once. Two net gains would be very satisfactory for the Conservatives, three a significant acheivement.

    I think we also agree on the need to look at it constituency by constituency not so much because of the four party option, but because of the variety. No SNP constituency has a LibDem in second place or vice versa and the Cons have only one seat, but Lab are challenged by all three parties and likely to lose seats to all three.

    Labour majorities against SNP challengers are higher than against LibDems but LibDems may also lose votes to the SNP. There are three way marginals. Much depends in some cases how the Labour votes breaks, and in others they are in an irrelevant fourth place.

    A dissatisfied Labour voter always still has a choice in addition to voting Conservative or staying at home, and he is likely to use one of these choices. That’s why Conservative gains are easier to predict than, for example, SNP gains from LibDem.

    For the SNP to take votes from a sitting LibDem is more difficult than from Labour, and there may be a negligible Labour vote to be squeezed. In such seats we will see the strength of the increase in support for the Nationalists as distinct from them gaining the largest fall out from the collapse of Labour. It might not be much.

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